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Will the Law Commission’s new proposals change the lives of carers?

It’s probably not wise to announce this in public, but I’m probably going to break the law this weekend. I’m sure that at one point, I will jump into my girlfriend’s Ford Ka and end up doing 33 or 34 MPH when the legal speed limit is 30. But hey, everybody knows that whilst 30MPH is the law, you’re allowed to go 10% or so over the legal limit.

Gavel and balance scales

The Law Commission’s proposals will not change the lives of carers wholesale, but they will raise the bar of what local authorities must do.

The practice differs from the law and sometimes you cannot change behaviour by simply changing the law, but it is to the law that we often turn to first.

The Law Commission are proposing to merge various community care laws enacted since 1948 into one legal statute. But more than just amalgamating existing laws, they are also suggesting new ones.

Some of these could significantly impact upon carers such as withdrawing the need for carers to be providing substantial and regular care to trigger the local authority’s duty to assess if requested.

The Law Commission also propose a national eligibility framework for carers (although not services users). There are other important questions such as whether young carers should have the same rights as adult carers or whether the carer’s assessment should be merged with the community care assessment. And even the most fundamental question is up for grabs – should this new statute apply to England and Wales or just England?

The big question for carers is not any of the above though. It must be whether these legal changes will improve the practice of social services to make sure that carers are identified and assessed. But even if identification and assessment rates increase, there is no guarantee of increased support.

However, let’s go back to my speeding. Why is it that I do 33 and not 36? It’s because the legal limit is 30MPH and the leeway I give myself is based on that. If the limit was 35MPH, I would probably do 38MPH. The law does matter and it does influence behaviour even if we don’t always follow the letter of the law. The Law Commission’s proposals will not change the lives of carers wholesale, but they will raise the bar of what local authorities must do. That has to be a good thing.

Leave a comment here on my blog and I will send you a summary of the proposals – and it would be great to hear what people think. You can also take part in a short survey that will inform our response to the Law Commission: www.surveymonkey.com/s/lawcommission

The consultation closes 1st July: www.lawcom.gov.uk/adult_social_care.htm

Take care
Gordon

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May 26, 2010 - Posted by | Law, Social Care | , , , , ,

7 Comments »

  1. […] Gordon Conochie, Joint Policy and Parliamentary Officer at The Princess Royal Trust for Carers. read in full The Law Commission are proposing to merge various community care laws enacted since 1948 into one […]

    Pingback by Will the Law Commission’s new proposals change the lives of carers? « Carer Watch's Blog | May 26, 2010 | Reply

  2. Hi Gordon

    I was at a consultation event for carers with the Law Commission last Monday and overall I think they really did listen to our comments and concerns – which we were very vocal in expressing. Amongst other things, there was a good dicussion on safeguarding and protection for carers themselves and the need for clarity in the law around that (they proposed safeguarding protection for carers in receipts of services and we said ALL carers should be protected).

    Jill

    Comment by Jill Pay | May 26, 2010 | Reply

  3. I’d be interested to hear more about the proposals but have found in far too many cases that the law – especially regarding carers – is all too often bypassed and the guidance that accompanies it is ignored. Perhaps a single law might cut the confusion and make it easier to sort out, provided there is no loss of rights for carers – and better still a strengthening of their rights.

    Comment by charles47 | May 27, 2010 | Reply

  4. Charles, I work for a law firm which supports the Trust and I’ve been helping Gordon with the Trust’s response to the Law Commission.

    I was also at the consultation event that Jill mentioned and the issue of redress for carers who feel that their Local Authority has done respected the legislation was raised. It wasn’t something that Gordon and I had included in our draft response (which is currently being circulated to the carers’ centres), but it is an excellent point and we will make sure that we address it in our final submission.

    I agree with Jill: the consultation event was very good and I think the Law Commission representatives recognise the importance of the task they have undertaken.

    Comment by Jacq | May 27, 2010 | Reply

  5. What does the law commision know anything about CARERS,nobody from this group has ever asked me for my opinion or point of view.
    SO WHO DO THEY THINK THEY ARE.
    Well no matter what they say or do.if i think my wife still needs CARING FOR – I AND I ALONE WILL DETERMINE THIS AND WILL CONTINUE TO PROVIDE WHAT NO ELSE EVER OFFERED TO DO OR PAYED FOR

    Comment by Taras Kurylak | May 28, 2010 | Reply

  6. Ahem…

    “…and the issue of redress for carers who feel that their Local Authority has done respected the legislation was raised”

    Apologies: that wasn’t some obscure legal terminology – for ‘has done respected’ please substitute ‘has not respected’!

    Comment by Jacq | May 28, 2010 | Reply

  7. Thanks for the information, Gordon. The proposals are interesting but show a lack of real understanding from the Law Commission.

    They seem to think that because something is enshrined in law, it will happen…and the evidence from my neck of the woods is that it’s not the case, especially in terms of carers assessments.

    Survey completed – I agree with most of the comments from PRTC, by the way. But I do feel that the point about assessments needs “beefing up”: the idea that an assessment should not happen if there’s no reasonable prospect of providing a service is too big an escape clause when the idea of personalised services is that there should be fewer barriers to support. I’d suggest that if there is a real problem in delivering a service that gap needs to be identified and flagged up. It may be an individual and unique issue – but the chances are that a number of carers will have similar needs and therefore authorities would be able identify a new service need. But only if the assessment picks up the gap in the first place.

    Comment by charles47 | June 3, 2010 | Reply


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