Disability Rights UK and Liberty speak out on Care Act easements

By agency reporter
May 11, 2020

Disability Rights UK and Liberty have released statements opposing the suspension of Care Act rights by local councils. Derbyshire and Coventry were the latest to suspend Care Act rights, joining Birmingham, Solihull, Warwickshire, Staffordshire and Sunderland. Middlesbrough, which in April had announced suspension of rights, is now back operating under the Care Act.

The majority of authorities say that they have only changed processes for assessments and reviews, however, even these steps could negatively affect support given to disabled citizens. Solihull has confirmed that it has withdrawn support from some disabled people and Derbyshire says it is likely to.

Commenting on Care Act easements by seven local authorities, Kamran Mallick, chief executive of Disability Rights UK said: “Disability Rights UK and Liberty opposed the government’s suspension of Care Act rights under the Coronavirus Act. We believe that taking away disabled people’s rights to care and support during the coronavirus crisis is completely wrong.

“Seven councils have now taken steps to move away from some aspects of the Care Act. We have asked them questions about why they have done this, what consultation they did before making their decisions and how they have communicated changes with disabled people.

“Most councils are saying they have only changed processes for assessing and delivering care. But other councils are cutting services, which is unacceptable. We’d like to hear from any disabled people who are having problems with their care packages, in these areas or anywhere else across the country.

“We appreciate there are significant resource challenges for local authorities, against a backdrop of cuts over the last 10 years. But the pandemic, and changes to services, are having a massive impact. Calls to our helpline show disabled people are anxious and worried, with some losing social care services which support them in their day to day lives.

“The government needs to make sure disabled people don’t become even harder hit because of the pandemic, and that councils have the money to deliver services which help disabled people stay independent.”

Sam Grant, Liberty policy and campaigns manager, said: “Councils’ actions not only risk being unlawful – if you are disabled or rely on social care they could leave you without the most basic support. The fallout of this will inevitably be even greater strain on the NHS, as people who depend on carers for things like food and help using the bathroom risk being left all but abandoned.

“We were concerned by these easements when the coronavirus legislation was introduced because time and again, those at the margins feel the sharpest end of a crisis. What we weren’t anticipating was the eagerness of some councils to trigger them without full assessment and consultation.

“Councils’ actions pave the way for vital safeguards to be stripped away just when people have become even more vulnerable. As a bare minimum councils must immediately demonstrate they have met the high standards set by the Government before they begin relaxing care rules.

“The Government and local councils should be working to shore up – not weaken - support for disabled people, their carers and those who rely on social care during this pandemic. We need to come through this crisis the right way – with all of our rights intact.”

* Disability Rights UK https://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/

* Liberty https://www.libertyhumanrights.org.uk/

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