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By Keith Simpson
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Policy Focus: Original care proposals still needed

Policy Focus: Original care proposals still needed

Law Commission | Law Commission

3 min read Partner content

The Law Commission says the original proposals now being debated in the Care Bill remain the same as they were when originally proposed after their 2008 review.

The Care Bill, introduced into the House of Lords by Earl Howe on 9 May 2013, implements almost all the recommendations made by the Law Commission in our landmark report on adult social care law. Published in May 2011, this report recommends the most far-reaching reforms of adult social care law seen for over 60 years.

When we announced our review of adult social care law in 2008 we argued that the legislative framework for adult social care was inadequate, often incomprehensible and outdated. To this day, it remains a confusing patchwork of conflicting statutes enacted over a period of 60 years. There is no single, modern statute to which service users, local councils and service providers can look to understand whether services can or should be provided. Moreover, the proliferation of statutes, subordinate legislation and guidance in this area has lead to inefficiency in the system, as much time is required to negotiate the complex and outdated law, and the end result is often uncertain and unclear. Finally, the legal structure also has the effect of stifling innovation, and the multiple layers of law make it difficult to promote flexibility and new policy approaches in practice.

On 24 February 2010 we opened a four-month public consultation, setting out over 80 questions and detailed provisional proposals for reforming the law of adult social care. We proposed a single statute for adult social care and the repeal of all existing community care statutes such as the National Assistance Act 1948 and the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970. The statute would provide a new legal framework for those with care and support needs, carers and safeguarding adults from harm. Members of the Law Commission attended over 70 events across England and Wales. These included meetings with service users, carers, local authorities, individual social workers, health staff, academics, safeguarding boards and regional networks, local authority lawyers, personalisation groups, service providers, legal bodies and charities and campaigning organisations. We also received 231 written responses from a range of different individuals and organisations.

As a result of the consultation we revised our proposals and laid our final report in Parliament the following May.

The Care Bill introduced into the House of Lords in May this year implements almost all of our recommendations, including:

• streamlining and modernising a system that still has its roots in the poor law,
• clarifying rights and responsibilities for older and disabled people and local councils, and
• improving the position of carers.

We are very pleased that the government has accepted our thinking and acted so swiftly to implement these important and much-needed reforms. We are also glad to report that the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Bill, implementing our recommended reforms to adult social care in Wales, was laid before the National Assembly for Wales on 28 January 2013.

Visit the PoliticsHome Policy Focus on the Care Bill

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