Lords extends human rights protections for care users

Human Rights Act to apply to care arranged or funded by local authorities across the UK under change to the Care Bill

Houses of Parliament
Pic: Gary Brigden

The House of Lords yesterday extended Human Rights Act 1998 protection to people whose care is arranged or funded by government.

The government amendment to the Care Bill applies throughout the UK and also applies to services funded through direct payments.

Health minister Earl Howe told the Lords: “The amendment makes it clear that providers of publicly arranged or funded care and support, both residential and non-residential, provided on behalf of a local authority to an individual, are bound by the Human Rights Act.”

The amendment closes a loophole that meant people could only call on the Human Rights Act when care was provided directly by public bodies, or they were placed by councils or the NHS in care homes. People receiving domiciliary care commissioned by the state are currently not protected, but will be under the new arrangements.

The change will apply to all care providers regulated by the Care Quality Commission and its equivalents elsewhere in the UK.

The Lords had previously amended the bill to extend human rights protections to all service users receiving care from regulated providers. However, Howe said this would have extended the Human Rights Act into the private sphere of arrangements made between individuals and care providers without state involvement, which was not the intention of the legislation.

Though the bill had already passed through both Houses of Parliament, it returned to the Lords yesterday for the consideration and agreement of amendments made in the Commons. It will now return to the Commons for final consideration before passing into law.

 

 

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