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Local authority processes are failing adults with social care needs, human rights commission finds

Adults receiving social care in England and Wales are being failed if they try to challenge decisions made by local authorities, according to an inquiry conducted by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).  

A new report, Challenging adult social care decisions in England and Wales, reveals that local authority processes are confusing and slow, and making complaints is difficult and stressful.

The EHRC launched its inquiry in July 2021 to understand the experiences of social care users and carers who have challenged decisions made by local authorities. It examined the procedures in place among local authorities across England and Wales and gathered insight from social care professionals too.  

The inquiry found that some people are deterred from seeking help by a complicated system that fails to provide crucial information about how to challenge decisions. Some users are concerned at a lack of independence from the person making the decision – raising the spectre of negative consequences and loss of access to care if decisions are challenged. For others data collection and analysis is lacking, so patterns and trends are being missed

Marcial Boo, chief executive of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said: “The social care system in England and Wales is struggling, with people’s needs being balanced against tight budgets. Local authorities… must protect people’s rights when making decisions about their care. Effective ways for people to challenge those decisions are crucial to ensuring that good decisions are made and people’s needs are met.”   

Among the recommendations made by the EHRC:

  • The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGSCO) to become the statutory complaints standards authority for adult social care in England, with new powers to initiate investigations into areas of concern without the need for individual complaints.
  • The Welsh Government to work with local authorities and others to improve the collection and analysis of equality data from social care users, including those who challenge decisions.


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