Privacy

Decade of social care

2000

The Care Standards Act

What it did

Led to the establishment of the General Social Care Council in England and the Care Council for Wales in 2001.

Background

It followed two white papers in 1998 and 1999, Modernising Social Services and Building for the Future, which highlighted concerns about failures and low public confidence in social services.

Implications

The Act made registration with a care council mandatory for all social workers in England and Wales, requiring them to provide evidence of their qualifications and suitability. The Act also paved the way for a conduct system for social workers in England and Wales.


2001

Valuing People white paper

What it did

Set out how the government would help children and adults with learning disabilities to “live full and independent lives as part of their local communities”.

Background

Valuing People was the first white paper on learning disability for 30 years, since 1971′s Better Services for the Mentally Handicapped, which had called for a major cut in long-stay hospital places.

Implications

The 2001 strategy set ambitious targets including the closure of long-stay hospitals by 2004, which was later amended to 2006, but the final hospital only closed last year. A follow-up, Valuing People Now, came out in 2009.


2002

Adoption and Children Act

What it did

Set out new instructions for local authorities and adoption agencies and made adoption legislation compatible with other legislation relating to children, such as the Children Act 1989.

Background

Frances Coller of the charity After Adoption says the sector had “waited 25 years for this Act”, which replaced the Adoption Act 1976, and the government branded it the “most radical overhaul of adoption law for 26 years”.

Implications

The Act provided for unmarried couples to adopt, established a framework for accessing adoption records, and amended the Children Act 1989 to introduce a special guardianship order.


2003

Every Child Matters green paper

What it did

Its aim was to join up services so that every child in England, regardless of their circumstances, can achieve five outcomes. These include: be healthy; stay safe; and make a positive contribution. It aimed to maximise opportunities for children, while safeguarding them at the same time.

Background

The landmark 2003 green paper was published alongside the government’s response to Lord Laming’s report into the death of Victoria Climbié. In 2004 the government published ECM updates including Every Child Matters: Next Steps, and Every Child Matters: Change for Children. The actions in Every Child Matters were then enshrined in law in the Children Act 2004.

Implications

ECM has led to numerous changes including local safeguarding children boards, multi-agency teams, directors of children’s services, the Integrated Children’s System, the Common Assessment Framework and a children’s commissioner for England. By 2010, there should be a children’s centre in every council in England.


2004

Asylum and Immigration Act

What it did

Introduced harsher penalties for failed asylum seekers and cracked down on human trafficking by making it a criminal offence.

Background

The legislation doubled in length from the time the government published the initial bill in November 2003 to it becoming an Act in July 2004.

Implications

The 2004 Act introduced the controversial section 9, which made failed asylum seekers ineligible for benefits, meaning they could become destitute and have their children taken into care. The government has recently proposed to repeal this law after years of fierce opposition from campaigners. The 2004 Act also changed laws on homelessness so that a refugee would be deemed to have a “local connection” with the local authority in which they were given their dispersal accommodation – that is, accommodation outside London and south east England. Other features in the Act included new penalties for people arriving in the UK without valid documentation and plans to replace backdated benefits payments with a refugee integration loan.


2005

Adult green paper: Independence Well-being and Choice

What it did

Extended direct payments and introduced the concept of individual budgets so service users could buy in the services they wanted. It also encouraged greater use of “assistive” technology – equipment and services that assist older and disabled people of all ages to maximise their independence.

Background

The Department of Health announced in April 2004 that it would develop a new vision for adult social care. The need for a new vision was attributed to the increasing number of older people and the changing nature of communities as well as higher expectations within society. Individual budgets were taken forward in the March 2005 adult green paper and in November of that year the DH announced they would be piloted in 13 councils.

Implications

Take-up of direct payments and individual budgets has risen but still remains low as a proportion of people receiving services. Ultimately both concepts will change the way people receive services.


2006

Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act

What it did

Authorised the creation of an Independent Barring Board (now known as the Independent Safeguarding Authority) to vet people wanting to work or volunteer with vulnerable children and adults.

Background

The Act followed the murders of Soham schoolgirls Jessica Chapman and Holly Wells by school caretaker Ian Huntley in 2002, and the subsequent inquiry led by Sir Michael Bichard (pictured), which reported in June 2004. He found there was a lack of information shared about Huntley, who was already known to authorities.

Implications

There was a backlash against the scheme in 2009, following reports that parents could have to register with the ISA if they gave lifts to children from other families. A government-backed review, which was led by Sir Roger Singleton and reported last month, said social care staff would only have to register with the ISA if they come into contact with service users at least once a week. The scheme will now apply to about nine million adults, two million fewer than under original proposals for it to cover adults coming into contact with children once a month.


2007

Mental Health Act

What it did

The Act was largely focused on public protection and risk management. Among its key changes was the replacement of the approved social worker role by the approved mental health professional post.

Background

The culmination of several years of heated debate, the Act was intended to introduce compulsory community treatment and to make clear that people with a personality disorder could be detained.

Implications

So many community treatment orders were issued that there was a shortage in second opinion-appointed doctors.


2008

Health and Social Care Act

What it did

Created a new super-regulator for health and care in England, the Care Quality Commission, and also aimed to extend direct payments for service users and create a fairer funding system for long-term care.

Background

It followed DH consultations on adult social care regulation and public health. As services became jointly commissioned between adult social care and health, it made sense to create an integrated regulator.

Implications

The Act gave extended powers to the CQC. These included the power to issue financial penalty notices for regulatory breaches and a power to suspend care home registration.


2009

Baby P and Social Work Task Force

What it did

The final report of the Social Work Task Force led to a package of radical reforms for the social work profession in England.

Background

Children’s secretary Ed Balls commissioned a panel of experts to conduct a root-and-branch review of social work practice in the wake of the Baby P case. The taskforce found a “vicious circle” of problems affecting the profession.

Implications

There will be an overhaul of the training system; a mandatory first year of assessed practice for graduates; a licence-to-practise scheme replacing registration; national standards for employers on support to frontline social workers; and an independent college to give the profession a national voice.


Comments are closed.