Legal challenge to Local Authority’s use of Care Act Easements

Topics covered: Care Act 2014, COVID-19, local authorities

Derbyshire Council has until 11 May to respond to a legal challenge to its decision to relax its adherence to the Care Act by taking the measures set out in the Care Act easements provided for in the Act and supported by accompanying guidance.  If the Council does not respond by 11 May they are open to a judicial review challenge.

Derbyshire Council includes information on its website which details the reasons why it considers that it needs to rely on the Care Act easements.  The Care Act easements guidance does require that the decision to rely on Care Act easements needs to be communicated and also includes how such decisions are to be taken. Surprisingly though there does not appear to be a requirement for Local Authorities to communicate (to providers, service users and carers) the evidence which contributed to the process of reaching the decision to exercise their powers under the Care Act easements.

Care Act easements provide Local Authorities with the ability to reshape its compliance with certain duties under the Care Act 2014 such as carrying out care assessments, assessing eligibility for care and meeting the needs of care and support for individuals.

Pressures and workforce depletion need to be experienced before a Local Authority can seek to rely on these easements.  Local Authority’s may pre-emptively seek to rely on these arrangements as part of forward planning but the Care Act easements do not provide Local Authorities with the ability to do this.  Transparency in this process and providing sufficient detail to enable care providers, service users and carers, to understand the decisions that are being taken is of the greatest importance at this time.

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