Government urged to act over council social care

The Government was urged today to impose a legal duty on local authorities to assess the social care needs of elderly and disabled people.

The Law Commission, which advises ministers on legal reform, said that laws covering the provision of adult social care are outdated and in need of a radical shake-up.

It called for the legal framework - spread across 38 separate Acts of Parliament dating back more than 60 years - to be replaced by a "single, clear and modern statute".

The commission said it is not seeking to create new entitlements to care but is seeking to clarify existing rights.

It did not go into the contentious issue of how future care provision should be funded - currently the subject of an acrimonious political debate between the main parties.

Instead, in a series of provisional recommendations, it said there should be new legislation to establish a core set of overarching principles to guide social care decisions.

These should include an explicit duty to assess the care needs of individuals with a requirement for local authorities to provide community services for all those who are eligible.

It also called for the establishment of a duty to assess the needs of carers who look after loved ones or family members in the home, and a statutory obligation for local authorities to investigate if they suspect vulnerable adults are being abused or neglected.

Frances Patterson QC, who led the project, said the proposals are intended to ensure that people in need of care and those working in the system are clear about the individual's rights to services.

"It is unacceptable that people should have to look at more than 38 Acts of Parliament, plus thousands of pages of guidance, to work out what the system is for delivering these essential services," she said.

"We are seeking to bring clarity to the system of social care. We are not seeking to change existing entitlements. A clear, modern statute will save time and money wasted on operating the current time-expired system.

Shadow health minister Stephen O'Brien said: "Carers play a vital role in our communities and help support some of the most vulnerable people in society - often on a full-time basis. Conservatives want to support carers where they need it most - in the workplace, in the home and through our NHS and social services.

"By giving carers better access to flexible working arrangements, by proposing planned respite care - not just emergency respite care - and by offering individual tailor-made budgets for those under their care, Conservatives hope to lead the way in recognising and supporting the dedication and hard work of the nation's 5.4 million carers.

"Bringing together the many diverse pieces of legislation in this area will help strengthen social care across the country. It is disappointing that Labour have legislated so haphazardly with so little coherence."

Care services minister Phil Hope said: "This is an excellent opportunity to review the existing legal framework and consider replacing it with a modern social care statute, fit for the 21st century.

"This independent review goes hand in hand with our plans to reform the care and support system which will create a fairer, simpler and more affordable system for everyone.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?