Adults’ entitlements to social care have been thrown a lifeline following communities secretary Eric Pickles’ controversial decision to put all council care duties under review, Community Care has learned.
Respondents to the Law Commission’s consultation on reforming adult social care law overwhelmingly backed retaining current entitlements to care, most of which will be incorporated into the commission’s final report in early May. The report is expected to inform government legislation next year.
Fears that councils’ duties to provide social care may be reduced were raised earlier this month after the Department for Communities and Local Government launched a review of all statutory obligations on local authorities, with a view to slashing their number.
However, in its analysis of consultations on proposals for reform, published on 31 March, the Law Commission said there was strong support for retaining councils’ current responsibilities.
“Consultees were clear that any reform of the law must not dilute the strength of the duties owed by councils to disabled and ill people,” said lead law commissioner, Frances Patterson.
Respondents to the consultation supported the retention of rights to assessment for those with care needs and to have eligible needs met, among others.
“Support for the abolition of existing legal duties was in almost every case conditional on their replacement by something similar,” said Patterson.
Patterson confirmed that the commission’s recommendations had been heavily influenced by the results of the consultation, saying almost every one had been altered as a result of responses.
“The problem with Pickles’ consultation is that it sees social care duties in terms of a relationship of central and local government when in reality it’s about the rights of citizens,” said Stephen Lowe, social care policy adviser at Age UK.
He commended the Law Commission for upholding people’s rights.
Social worker and blogger Fighting Monsters said: “I am reassured that duties in relation to the provision of adult social care are being retained but that doesn’t mean I’m not confused as to why they were a part of the [DCLG] consultation process in the first place.”
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