The London Borough of Haringey has agreed to pay substantial damages to a teenager with autism and his mother following a legal challenge. The family took Haringey to court under the Equality Act and Human Rights Act, after being denied a service for nearly a year. Despite repeated referrals and complaints from the family, the child’s school, his psychiatrist, the police and the family’s MP, Children’s Services refused to help. The basis for the council’s refusal was that the child was not “disabled” according to their policies. This meant that the Disabled Children’s team would not even assess the child, let alone provide him with an urgently needed care package. The result of this failure to provide a service was devastating for the family, with the police frequently being called out when the family could not cope. The child and his mother suffered emotional and physical harm.

After legal proceedings were started, Haringey accepted that their policies for assessing disabled children were directly discriminatory. They agreed to withdraw the policies Threshold Criteria for Disabled Children’ Services and Integrated Service Special Needs and Disabilities: Eligibility Criteria for Personal Budgets and to carry out a public consultation to develop new policies by January 2019.

As part of the settlement of the case, Haringey also agreed to carry out an audit of families which may have been affected by the unlawful policies by sampling 20% of referrals to the Disabled Children’s team made between January 2016 and January 2018. They agreed to contact families affected by the policies to let them know that they may have been eligible for services. Haringey also agreed to publish the findings of this audit by 31 October 2018 but, to date, the findings have not been published.

If you believe that your disabled child has been refused services by your local authority please contact our community care team on 020 3440 8100 or by email to

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