The Care Act 2014 sets out the duty of local authorities to assess people’s needs for care and support, and to determine eligibility for public funding to meet those needs. It includes significant legislation to support carers, including the right to an assessment independently of the person they care for.
The Care Act 2014:
- Brings together into one place most adult social care law, making it simpler and easier to understand.
- Replaces key legislation and guidance, including the three Acts of Parliament which specifically related to carers:
Carers (Recognition and Services) Act 1995
Carers and Disabled Children Act 2000
Carers (Equal Opportunities) Act 2004
Assessments and eligibility
- Introduces national care and eligibility criteria which all councils must use, ending a ‘postcode lottery’ on provision for carers and the people they are caring for.
- Gives carers the right to their own assessment, whatever the level of their need for support or their financial resources, or those of the adult that they care for.
- Previously carers had to provide a ‘substantial amount of care on a regular basis’ in order to be eligible. If carers have been refused an assessment in the past because they did not meet the eligibility criteria, they are now able to request another assessment.
- Provides a greater clarity about safeguarding responsibilities, and how the local authority and partners work to protect vulnerable people.
Information, advice and advocacy
- Everyone is entitled to advice and information on care and support services, even if they are self-funding or they have not been assessed as needing specific help.
- Sets out a clear legal duty for local authorities to lead on safeguarding issues in their area. Adult safeguarding is the process of protecting adults with care and support needs from abuse or neglect. The local authority must set up a Safeguarding Adults Board (SAB) to work with other agencies such as the NHS and the police, to develop a joint safeguarding strategy.
- Improves and clarifies a local authority’s duty to promote all people’s wellbeing (both adults and their carers) when providing support.
Paying for care
- Following assessment, the local authority may decide a carer needs support but is not entitled to financial help i.e. they pay for their own services – they are ‘self funding’.
- People who are self-funding have a right to ask councils to put services in place for them. These services should be charged at the same rates as the council pays for someone whose care is being funded.
- When someone has been assessed for social care support, they have a right to know the value of their ‘personal budget’. This is a summary of the estimated costs of their support services. It is particularly useful when someone is paying for their own care.
- If a person is awarded a personal budget for their care by the council, they can choose to have this money paid to them directly, as cash; this is known as a Direct Payment. If they would rather have someone else, such as a social worker, manage the money and buy services for their care, this is called a Managed Budget. A person can also choose to have the money paid to a third party provider organisation, who will manage the budget for them, and will source and buy care services with the person’s agreement. This arrangement is known as an Individual Service Fund.
- Deferred Payment Agreements (DPAs) are available from all councils across England. This arrangement enables people to use the value of their own home to pay for care home costs. The council will pay bills, recouping the cost when someone decides to sell their home or after their death. This means people will not have to sell their house during their lifetime in order to pay for care.
The government announced that they would introduce changes to the way people pay for social care in England with an altered cap on care costs. This was planned to start from October 2023 but the reforms have been delayed two further years.