Belfast Telegraph

Student wins right to grant aid challenge

By Alan Erwin

A disabled student has won permission to mount a High Court challenge over grant aid to adapt her home.

Carla Kingsman secured leave to seek a judicial review of decisions about the level of support to help build a downstairs bedroom.

Ms Kingsman, who is studying at Queen's University in Belfast, suffers from cerebral palsy.

She lives with her parents under arrangements where her mother acts as a full-time carer.

Her challenge centres on an application for a Disabled Facilities Grant to make changes to the home.

Two options were explored: a base scheme which involves converting part of the downstairs area; and an enhanced extension scheme preferred by the family.

Proceedings were issued against the Housing Executive and the South Eastern Health Trust after approval was given for the conversion plan. The decision was said to be based on the costs involved.

Ms Kingsman's barrister, Ronan Lavery QC, argued that it would mean depriving her family of a living area.

Instead, he argued, a grant should be provided to build a small extension for the bedroom.

Ruling on the case, Mrs Justice Keegan expressed sympathy for the applicant but emphasised the point was about legal redress.

"The issue is whether there was a proper and rational consideration of need," the judge said. "It seems to me further inquiry is required in relation to that."

With Ms Kingsman said to have established an arguable case, she was granted leave to apply for judicial review.

Listing a full hearing for next month, the judge added: "This case needs some urgent attention."

Belfast Telegraph

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