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Equality watchdog to quiz councils on care commissioning

The Equality and Human Rights Commission is to quiz councils in England on their commissioning of home care, through a survey due to go out this month.
The review comes one year after the report of the equality watchdog inquiry into home care, which found widespread human rights breaches, driven in part by commissioning practices that lead to rushed care visits.

The EHRC report was highly influential. On the eve of its publication, the Care Quality Commission announced a thematic review of home care services – which started in April 2012 – and the government pledged to end crude contracting-by-the-minute commissioning practice in its care White Paper, published in July.


The EHRC’s review is designed to examine how far its recommendations, which councils have a duty to pay due regard to, have been taken up. It will look at:

  • The time slots commissioned for home care and whether councils pay providers – and by extension their staff – for travel time between visits;
  • The effectiveness of complaints procedures for service users – the inquiry found these were not effective or insufficient;
  • Any evidence of age discrimination – the inquiry found that people aged over 65 were getting less money and a smaller range of services than younger adults with similar needs.
The survey will be analysed early next year and will lead to a report in the spring.

The commission’s biggest recommendation was for government to legislate to bring home care delivered by independent providers and paid for out of public funds within the remit of the Human Rights Act 1998. Currently, users of council-run home care services and state-funded care home services – in whatever sector – are covered but not state-funded users of independent home care.

I understand the government expressed some murmurs about this but no commitments have been made.

Mithran Samuel

About Mithran Samuel

Mithran Samuel is adults' editor at Community Care.

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