ASK IPSEA: What happens to their support when a disabled child moves to a new area?
Please can you advise what happens if a young person moves to a new area with an EHC plan but the new area was not informed of the move prior.
I know that provision shouldn't stop while the new area carry out their assessment, but in this case the area was not informed, so the young person is currently not receiving their care package and it will take up to 20 weeks for a new plan. The plan received from the old area was only issued fairly recently just prior to the move.
The fact that the new LA were not told in advance about the family’s move to their area does not mean that the new LA is not responsible. They clearly are aware that the young person is now residing in their area and that means that they are responsible for him/her.
The details of what should happen once a child / young person moves into a new area and their EHC plan is transferred to a new Local Authority, are set out in regulation 15 of the SEN and Disability Regulations 2014
Within 15 days of being told about the move, the old Local Authority must transfer the EHC plan to the new Local Authority, and as from that date the new Local Authority will be responsible for securing the provision within the EHC plan. This means that the provision specified in Section F and the child / young person’s attendance at the school or college specified in Section I should continue. If a family have moved some distance, and the child / young person’s attendance at the school / college named in the EHC Plan is “no longer practicable”, then regulation 15(6) allows the Local Authority to arrange for them to attend a different school / college. This might not be the school / college of the young person’s choice, but in the short term, the Local Authority would simply have to offer a suitable school or college place to allow the education to continue. They would, however, then have to take steps to change the EHC plan, so that it no longer named the school / college in the ‘old’ Local Authority. At that point, a parent or young person would have a right to request a particular school / college to be named. In all cases (including where the move is only a short distance and the child / young person is able to continue attending the same school / college), the new Local Authority must serve a notice within 6 weeks of the transfer of the EHC plan, informing the parent/young person that:
- the EHC plan has been transferred;
- whether they propose to make an assessment, and
- when they propose to carry out a review of the EHC plan (they have a duty to carry out an annual review of the EHC plan within 12 months of the last annual review or within 3 months of the EHC plan transferring – whichever comes later).
It is certainly not an absolute requirement for the new LA to carry out a EHC needs assessment and it is worth noting that Regulation 15(3)(b) makes it clear that where the old Authority supplies advice from a previous assessment, the new Authority must not seek further advice where the person who wrote the advice, the old authority and the parent/young person are all satisfied that the advice is sufficient for the purpose of a new assessment. This prevents the new Local Authority re-assessing and seeking new professional reports unnecessarily.
Your question makes reference to a ‘care package’ and the information above relates to the educational provision specified in the EHC plan. We are not clear from your question, what type of ‘care’ package you mean. The SEN regulations do contain provisions in relation to the transfer of responsibilities between bodies responsible for commissioning health care provision, and these address what should happen if the young person is moving to a new area with a different commissioning body. They make it clear that where it is not practicable for that new commissioning body to arrange the health care provision specified in the EHC plan, it must, within 15 working days beginning with the date on which it became aware of the move, request that the new local authority makes an EHC needs assessment or reviews the EHC Plan, and where the new local authority receives such a request it must comply with that request.
However, we think it might be a social care package to which you are referring, and if this is the case, then it is worth noting that the Children and Families Act does not impose a duty on LAs to secure the social care provision in section H of a plan. The duty to arrange that provision derives from the underlying legislation (CSPDA 1970 in relation to children) or the Care Act 2014 for young people over the age of 18. We do not know how old the ‘young person’ is from your question, but if they are 18 or older, then then there are specific regulations made under the Care Act setting out what should happen to ensure that ‘continuity of care’ is preserved for a young person moving in this way. There are factsheets on the Care Act here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/care-act-2014-part-1-factsheets/care-act-factsheets
Factsheet 9 addresses the ‘continuity duty’ which will mean that even if a new local authority was not notified of a person moving into their area, and haven’t completed their assessment of their social care needs, they must continue to secure the provision which was previously being provided by the ‘old’ local authority, until that assessment has been completed and a new care plan issued.
There are no specific regulations for provision transferring in the same way for a child receiving social care provision, but we would expect the new local authority to offer social care provision to a child in there area who had previously been receiving such provision (although again, they may well choose to carry out their own assessment to determine whether the nature of any ongoing social care provision which would be offered.)