Care fees legal battle by disabled barrister

Barrister  Michael Tooley, who suffers from Multiple Sclerosis
Barrister Michael Tooley, who suffers from Multiple Sclerosis
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A DISABLED barrister has launched a legal battle against Sheffield Council over a decision to increase care service charges for 1,200 people.

Criminal prosecutor Michael Tooley, who suffers severe multiple sclerosis, is urging other disabled and elderly people to join his battle.

The Star revealed in August Town Hall bosses have lifted the cap on payments for home and day care services.

Of the 5,000 people who use the services 1,200 are now paying more, after the maximum personal contribution rose from £114 a week to £350.

Most of those people are paying an extra £5 to £50 – but some are having to find as much as £236 more each week.

Mr Tooley, who cannot stand or walk and can use only one arm, is now taking the council to court over the changes.

The 51-year-old father of two, who lives in Nether Edge, is helped by council-provided carers who help him get out of bed, dress, and get to work at Sheffield Crown Court.

If his legal bid fails he will be among 61 Sheffield residents whose contributions rocket from £114 to £350 a week – an additional £12,272 a year.

Mr Tooley said: “This increase is excessive and unfair.

“I accept some increase is needed to meet inflation and because of the national economy, but to raise the charge by more than 200 per cent is clearly disproportionate.

“There are many other people who are adversely affected, who might not have my specialised legal knowledge, or even know the judicial review route is available.”

Mr Tooley’s solicitor Yogi Amin, a partner at Sheffield law firm Irwin Mitchell, said: “We have raised fundamental flaws in the council’s consultation process and a potential legal challenge for breach of their statutory duties under the Equality Act 2010.”

Mr Tooley’s wife Mary Butler, 52, also a lawyer, said: “This is not just about us – there are many other people affected, some of whom have already cancelled their care.”

“We cannot afford to pay up to £18,200 a year without wrecking the financial planning we have done for retirement. The council says this was a choice between increasing contributions and cutting frontline services. But what is a more frontline service than supporting the disabled?”

Eddie Sherwood, Sheffield Council’s director of care and support, said: “We feel we followed all due process around consultation, taking full account of the impact any changes would have on individuals, and have asked people to contribute to the cost only if they have the ability to pay. This reflects national guidelines.”

Mr Tooley urged other people who are having to pay increased charges and want to appeal to urgently contact Conor Maguire or Charlotte Panas, at Irwin Mitchell, on 0870 150 0100.

The deadline for starting legal proceedings is December 8.