How are councils implementing the new Care Act?

The Care Act, which came into force in April 2015, has the potential to transform the support given by councils to any unpaid carer living in their area. It gives every single carer the right to have an assessment of their needs and places a duty on council to ensure they are doing all they can to protect carers health and wellbeing. It’s a legal recognition of the immense value and contribution made by England’s team of 5.5 million unpaid carers.

Purpose of our report

That is why Carers Trust is so anxious to ensure that councils follow the letter of the law, implement the new changes, and give carers the rights they deserve. We wanted to establish exactly what councils are doing to meet their new duties to carers.

What we did

We sent out Freedom of Information requests to all councils with responsibility for social care in England asking them about their plans to meet their new duties to prevent carers from developing a need for support.
We’ve compiled all those responses together into a report which analyses how well councils are meeting their new requirements.

Our key findings

  • Councils are still developing their approach to prevention. Just 27 councils (20% of respondents) mentioned a “Prevention Strategy” or “Prevention Approach” in their FOI responses. Of those, 13 are still developing their strategies.
  • Prevention strategies are not targeted at carers. Of the 27 councils that mentioned a “Prevention Strategy” or “Prevention Approach”, 11 (40%) made no reference to carers.
  • Prevention policies lack a strategic approach. Although councils were able to list a range of support services, it was difficult to distinguish from the FOI responses we received a clear overarching prevention strategy that can target and support carers depending on their level of need.
  • Prevention policies are not carer-specific: Only 7% of councils mentioned a “Carers Strategy” and throughout it was difficult to distinguish between the services being provided by councils to support the population in general from those designed specifically for carers.
  • Councils are not proactively identifying carers. Only 13% of councils mentioned that they are doing work to identify carers.

Our primary recommendations

  • All councils should consider adopting a new “prevention strategy” which fully takes into account the new duties created by the Care Act.
  • That strategy should be developed in partnership with third and voluntary sector organisations and through consultation with carers and their representatives.
  • Prevention plans must contain specific details on what councils will do to identify, target, and support carers depending on their different levels of need.
  • In commissioning prevention services, councils must ensure that their local market of support is sustainable and offers choice to carers, reflecting the fact that carers of different ages and backgrounds will have different needs for support.

Download the complete Carers Trust report Prevent, Reduce, Delay: Are Councils Meeting their New Duties to Support Unpaid Carers?

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