MPs furious over Pickles’ social care duties consultation

MPs have condemned the government for consulting on the removal of statutory social care duties, branding the moves "terrifying" and "unthinkable".

MPs have condemned the government for consulting on the removal of statutory social care duties, branding the moves “terrifying” and “unthinkable”.

The Department of Communities and Local Government has said it is examining all social care duties of local authorities as part of a wide-ranging review. It follows communities secretary Eric Pickles’ declaration of war on councils’ “barmy rules and regulations”.

Statutory duties subject to consultation include the duties to: consider the needs of disabled people; provide welfare services and investigate suspicions that a child is being harmed.

Lisa Nandy, Labour MP for Wigan, said she would seek to raise the matter in the House of Commons after Community Care alerted her to the government’s consultation – which was uploaded to the DCLG website yesterday, with no public announcement.

“To suggest that the statutory duty to keep vulnerable children and adults safe should be up for consultation is absolutely terrifying. It is astonishing, and quite unbelievable, that the government would even seek views on this. I will look to raise this in the House.”

Emily Thornberry, shadow minister for care services, agreed that the consultation was “very worrying” and said she feared that the government would ignore consultation responses and just cut local authority duties as they saw fit.

“It’s not alarmist to think that the reason they are consulting on councils shedding their responsibilities for social care is because they may actually do it. They do think the unthinkable and they think it without any shame.”

“The very fact that they are opening up this debate is very worrying. This is a very radical government, many of the people in it think they were born to rule but they don’t get it right.”

Nushra Mansuri, professional officer for the British Association of Social Workers (BASW), also condemned the government’s consultation in the “strongest possible terms”.

Mansuri said the consultation was evidence of a “complete lack of joined-up thinking at government level”. “There are already various credible reviews looking at social care and how we can reduce bureaucracy, such as the Eileen Munro review.

“So it makes absolutely no sense that someone like Eric Pickles who is ill-informed about these issues can come along and do this. Where is the joined-up thinking? There is no legitimate reason as to why his department are consulting on this. The government need to work out which departments are responsible for what.”

She added: “The government should not even be entertaining this. It is irresponsible and outrageous and threatens to undermine the entire care system in this country. We should not even have to engage with this, but it must be condemned in the strongest possible terms.”

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