High Court rules council must fund Traveller child with disabilities

The High Court has ruled councils must support disabled children in travelling families, even when they move to other parts of Britain.In a decision welcomed by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, the court ruled Worcestershire Council must support a three-year-old boy even when he is in another part of the country.
The boy, who has Down’s syndrome as well as other complex medical conditions, is part of a travelling Roma Gypsy family.

The family travels across England working at fairs during the summer, but is based in Malvern, Worcestershire, in the winter.

The council had declined to fund nursery services for the boy, known as Child J, while the family were travelling.

But Justice Edward Holman said there were ‘powerful submissions’ that it was unrealistic for Child J to access services from scratch every time the family moved to a different local authority area.

The judge said: ‘Everyone loves a funfair. They are part of the tapestry of our national life. But there would be no funfairs without the travelling families who own the rides and amusements, erect them, man them, and then take them onto the next pitch.

‘It must be a hard life and a hard working one, but it is a good life and an honourable one, which brings fun and joy to many people.’

He ruled that Worcestershire Council was able to exercise its power outside of its area, and should continue funding any provision it had put in place for the child.

Wendy Hewitt, legal director at the EHRC, said: ‘This important ruling means that this little boy, and others in similar situations, can now continue their traditional way of life without fearing the loss of essential services to meet their health and educational needs.’