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Court of Appeal overturns judgment in relation to public expenditure

The Court of Appeal today overturned the judgment of the Upper Tribunal in WH v Warrington and restored the position previously outlined in KH v Hillingdon and O v Lewisham concerning which costs should be taken into account when assessing unreasonable public expenditure under s9 of the Education Act 1996. 

In a unanimous judgment from all three appellate judges, they found that public expenditure meant expenditure from the public purse, irrespective of the source, so that health care and social care costs can be used by the tribunal when weighing public expenditure and determining the comparative costs of educational provision sought by either parents or local authorities. 

This means therefore that local authorities will have to consider carefully the additional costs of placements which involve social care intervention and also possibly the costs to the NHS of the provision of various services. 

This judgment is likely only to have a practical impact on those high value cases involving residential provision or where there is a complex package of need for the young person involving a multi-agency approach.  It is also congruent with the spirit and intention of the Children and Families Act 2014.  It is not known if this judgment will be the subject of a further appeal to the Supreme Court.

For further information, please view the judgment in Wendy Haining v Warrington Borough Council [2014] EWCA Civ 398.

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