As you know, in July 2016 there was a legal challenge to the Cabinet’s decision on the redesign of children’s services. The High Court held that the claim lacked any merit and the council went ahead with the implementation of the changes.
In October 2016 an application for permission to appeal the High Court decision was made and the hearing for that application was heard yesterday afternoon, in the Court of Appeal.
The outcome of the hearing was that the claimants have been granted permission to appeal, with the appeal itself to be heard on 7 and 8 December.
As part of this process the Court has directed that the council must not take certain actions pending the appeal hearing. The actions are that the council cannot provide staff with letters on 28 November detailing the outcomes of the selection process for the integrated children’s service. Unfortunately this direction means we will not be able to issue these letters until soon after the hearing, at the earliest.
The council believes it has a strong case and considers the appeal unlikely to succeed. We would hope therefore to be in a position to issue the letters as soon as possible after 8 December, though this will of course be dependent on the Court’s decision.
I am aware that some staff have already received notification of voluntary redundancy and this process will not impact that decision.
Discussions have taken place with Action for Children and the Sunshine Centre to ensure that our partners are aware of the appeal, but at this stage there are no implications for these commissioned services.
I am sorry for this further delay in what is already a stressful process for staff and will of course keep you fully updated as to how the appeal process progresses. The council would not wish to be in this position but does of course respect the court ruling.
If there are any further questions or concerns please do not hesitate to contact the integration team (firstname.lastname@example.org).
If you do require support please do speak to your line manager. The Employee Assistance Programme is also available 24 hours / 7 day a week. This free, confidential personal service offers expert advice and information on matters such as financial issues, benefits and tax credits as well as specialist counselling on family or personal issues. It can be accessed online or by phone on 0800 882 4102. You will need to provide the following information: Username “Directorates”, Password “Oxfordshire”.
I do want to apologise for sending this information out on a Friday afternoon but we have only been made aware of the position today and we wanted to make you aware of the situation before you read about it in the press
I would like to take this opportunity to once again thank you for your professionalism and continuing support to the children and families of Oxfordshire
Lucy Butler, Deputy Director, Children’s Social Care & Early Intervention