New tribunal powers on Health and Social Care


What does the Tribunal do?

The First Tier Tribunal hears appeals from parents and young people about local authority decisions on Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans. Currently, the tribunal can only consider appeals about the educational parts of the EHC plan.

Why the new powers?

The new tribunal powers will allow parents and young people a single route of appeal about the education, health and social care elements of an EHC plan. They are part of a two year national trial.

When parents or young people appeal about a refusal to issue an EHC plan, or about the educational needs, provision and educational placement in an EHC plan, the tribunal will also be able to make non – binding recommendations about the health and social care parts of the EHC plan at the same time.

For example:

  • If the tribunal order a local authority to issue an EHC plan, they can also recommend that health or social care needs are included in the EHC plan when it is drawn up.
  • If a health or social care need or provision is not included in an existing EHC plan, the tribunal can recommend that it should be included.
  • If health or social care provision is already included in an EHC plan, the tribunal can recommend that the needs or provision is amended.

What this means for parents and young people

Following the tribunal decision, health or social care commissioners will have to respond in detail to the local authority and parents/young people, setting out the steps they are going to take, or giving reasons why they have decided not to follow the tribunal recommendations. They will also have to respond to the evaluators of the trial.

When the results of the two year trial have been evaluated, a decision will be made as to whether the new tribunal process should continue.

Contact welcomes the extension of the tribunal powers, which should benefit many children and young people with complex needs.

Although the EHC process remains education-focused, the single route of appeal will enable a child or young person’s education health and social care needs to be considered at the same time and in a more holistic way, which should improve their chances of receiving joined up support which meets all their needs.

Robert Goodwill MP Minister of State for Children and Families has now announced that the trial will be extended to the whole of the England. The trial will begin in March 2018 and will run for two years.



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