Scots law provides powerful rights to education and support from other services, but this alone is insufficient. The law can be complicated and difficult to understand. Even when you know what your rights are, it can be daunting, exhausting and sometimes intimidating to challenge public officials. This guide aims to help unpick these problems and to develop effective strategies for resolving them.
You can download the toolkit below.
Download Accessing Public Services in Scotland: A problem-solving toolkit PDF
Published 2017. This edition 2017. Review date 2020.
You can use this letter to make a complaint about social services, for example if you’re unhappy with the amount of support available to your family or the way decisions have been made.
Use this letter if you need to chase a public body for its response to previous correspondence.
Use this letter to complain if there have been delays in getting the support that the council agrees you need.
Use this letter if the council has agreed that you need help, but says that it can’t afford to provide support.
Public bodies shouldn’t adopt rigid ‘blanket’ policies which prevent them from exercising their powers in individual cases (the legal term for this is ‘fettering discretion’). Use this letter to ask the council / health body to confirm in writing what their policy is.
If you think an official has told you something that’s incorrect or inappropriate, you can use this letter to ask the council / health body to confirm whether the comment is true or not.
If the authorities can’t agree on who’s responsible for helping your family, don’t try and work it out yourself – use our template letter to complain about them both for failing to work together.
Helping Families to Access their Legal Rights
Affiliation: Professor at Cardiff Law School and a solicitor
Biography: Luke Clements is the Cerebra Professor of Law at Cardiff Law School and a consultant solicitor specialising in public and human rights proceedings on behalf of socially excluded groups, primarily disabled people and Roma. He has conducted and advised on many cases before the Commission and Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg including the first Roma case to reach that court (Buckley v. UK 1996).
Luke is Director of the Law School’s Centre for Health and Social Care Law and his current research concerns the role of the law in both exacerbating and combating the social exclusion experienced by (in particular) disabled people and their carers. Luke is in charge of two taught Masters programmes: (1) Human Rights Law and (2) Social Care Law.
Luke leads the Cerebra research programme that focuses on ‘delivering legal rights and entitlements to children with neurodevelopmental disorders and their families’ for which Cerebra has endowed a research Chair at the Law School. The research analyses (amongst other things) the outcomes of the students’ pro bono advice scheme which provides practical advice to families experiencing difficulties in accessing health, social care and educational support services. Luke is a key partner in the Chronic Disorders of Consciousness Research Centre (involving York and Warwick Universities) a multi-disciplinary group of researchers studying chronic disorders of consciousness.
Luke is a leading expert on UK community care law and the rights of disabled people to social and health care support and in 2013 was the Special Adviser to the Joint Parliamentary Select Committee scrutinising the draft Care and Support Bill. Luke has also been involved in the drafting of Private Members Bills relating to the rights of carers, notably the Bills that became the Carers (Recognition and Services) Act 1995 and the Carers (Equal Opportunities) Act 2004. He is on the Editorial Boards of a number of journals, including the European Human Rights Law Review (Sweet & Maxwell), Disability and Society (Routledge), the African Disability Rights Yearbook (University of Pretoria), Child and Family Law Quarterly (Jordans), The Journal of Social Care and Neurodisability (Emerald), the Community Care Law Reports (Legal Action Group) and Social Care Law Today (Arden Davies Publishing).
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‘Problem solving: accessing decent services and support for children with complex needs and their families’
On Tuesday 7 October 2014 we held our annual conference for academics, practitioners, educators and carers. The day provided up to date, evidence-based information on the commonly encountered barriers experienced by disabled children and their families in accessing their legal rights and practical approaches to breaking down these barriers.
We’d like to thank everyone who attended and our excellent speakers for making the day a success.
Videos of the presentations and speaker slides from the day can be accessed by clicking on the the speakers names below.
Key speakers included:
- Professor Chris Oliver (University of Birmingham): Meeting the needs of children with severe intellectual disability: From response to strategy.
- Professor Richard Hastings (Warwick University): Parents’ and service users’ experiences of challenging behaviour services.
- Dr Janet Read and Dr Claire Blackburn (Warwick Medical School): Socio-economic influences on outcomes for disabled children.
- Alison Thompson (Parent and author): Accessing services: the view from a parent.
- Dr Maggie Atkinson (Children’s Commissioner for England): ‘We want to help people see things our way’.
- Nigel Ellis (Executive Director and Local Government Ombudsman): Commonly occurring problems experienced by disabled children and their families.
- Polly Sweeny (Associate solicitor, Public Law Department Irwin Mitchell): Educational, Health and Care Plans: legal rights of disabled children under the Children and Families Act 2014.
- Professor Luke Clements (Cardiff University Law School): Helping families to access their legal rights.
Please click here to see the Question and Answer Session for the day.
Sponsors for this event:
Irwin Mitchell Cerebra would like to thank Irwin Mitchell Solicitors who are sponsoring and supporting this event.
The Big Lottery Fund Cerebra would like to say a huge thank you to the Big Lottery Fund, who have provided a grant of £9,900 towards the charity’s annual conference.