Private care homes contracted by local authorities exempt from Human Rights Act, House of Lords rules

Private care homes contracted by local authorities do not come under the Human Rights Act, the House of Lords ruled today in a landmark judgement.

The Lords dismissed an appeal by an 84-year-old woman with Alzheimer’s disease against Birmingham City Council in which she argued the act should apply to private care home residents who are publicly funded.

Campaigners have reacted angrily to the decision and accused the Lords of failing older people. The ruling was widely expected to go the other way.

“The disappointing decision today is a sickening blow to older people and their families everywhere.

“The vast majority of vulnerable older people receive their care from the private or voluntary sectors – today they remain without protection from abuses of their most basic human rights,” said Kate Jopling, head of public affairs at Help the Aged.

A spokesperson for the British Institute of Human Rights said: “We are stunned by this decision. By exempting private care homes from the Human Rights Act when they house people under contract to a local authority, the House of Lords has undermined the fabric of human rights protection in the UK.”

But the National Care Association welcomed the judgement. Sheila Scott, the body’s chief executive said: “More than 70 per cent of care homes in the UK are owned by small private business and inappropriate attempts to treat them like government bodies [by making the act apply] would have placed their future in jeopardy.”


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