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Call for Action as Government Moves to Suspend Care Act

Call for Action as Government Moves to Suspend Care Act

Disability Rights UK (DRUK) has serious concerns about the implications of the Coronavirus Bill on human rights, especially the rights of vulnerable groups, including disabled people.

The second reading of the Coronavirus Bill is today, Monday 23 March. DRUK are calling on disabled people to act now by writing to their MP, tweeting them or otherwise contacting them to explain their concerns.

The key concern is that the Coronavirus Bill suspends the Care Act. The Coronavirus Bill will effectively free local authorities of their duties to provide social care support under the Care Act 2014 and will only oblige local authorities to provide support in cases where the human rights of disabled people will be breached.

It is extremely important that you let the government know of your concerns about the suspension of the Care Act. One way you can do this is by writing to your MP using the letter template below. You can find your MP’s contact details here: www.writetothem.com

Write to your MP
A letter template has been created for you to use when writing/emailing your MP. You can view/download the template here: Coronavirus Bill template letter to your MP

Implications of the Bill for Disabled people
What does it mean for disabled adults?

The Bill suspends every duty in the Care Act, 2014, including the duty to meet the eligible needs of disabled people (Section 18) and their carers (Section 20). Under the #CoronaVirus Bill, Local Authorities will only have to provide care ‘if they consider it necessary’ for the purposes of avoiding a breach of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR). There is no human right to social care or positive obligation under the ECHR to meet care needs. See assessment from leading lawyers specialising in Social Care here: Click here.

Other changes set to be introduced through the #CoronaVirusBill will allow health bodies to delay carrying out an assessment for eligibility for NHS continuing care

What does it mean for disabled children and young people?

Duties for young people transitioning to adult social care have also been suspended.

The Secretary of State for Education will have power to disapply the duty on schools and other institutions to admit a child to a school where they are named on an EHCP. The Secretary of State will be able to vary provisions of the act, such as the core duty to procure provision set out in an EHCP, so instead of being an absolute duty it becomes a ‘reasonable endeavours’ duty, creating a lesser entitlement for up to two years.

What about the Mental Health Act?

The power to recommend individuals be detained under the Mental Health Act will be implemented using one doctor’s opinion instead of two, making it easier for people to be detained.

The proposed bill will temporarily allow the extension or removal of time limits in mental health legislation which means individuals might be released into the community early, or find themselves detained for longer.

Under section 5, emergency detention for people already in hospital would extend from 72 hours to 120 hours, and nurses’ holding powers would extend from 6 to 12 hours. Under sections 135 and 136, police powers to detain a person found in need of immediate care at a “place of safety” will extend from 24 hours to 36 hours. Under section 35/36, the cap on how long someone can be held in hospital while awaiting a report (currently 12 weeks) will be lifted.

What about the rights of disabled people?

Local authorities will have a duty to uphold disabled people’s human rights under the European Convention on Human Rights, BUT the threshold for a breach, in terms of not providing care and support is high, which means that disabled people will be left without care and support. Lack of care and support will have a significant impact on disabled people’s well-being, but may not be considered to reach the threshold for their human rights to have been breached – they will NOT have a right to care and support.

Impact on children with EHC plans and Special Educational Needs
The Coram Children’s Legal Centre has published an article examining the impact of coronavirus on schools, the Special Educational Needs (SEN) Tribunal and children on EHC plans or who have special educational needs. Read the article here: Click here.

Sources of information

Watch @stevebroach, Public Law Barrister talk about the impact of the Bill here: Click here.

Read this Twitter thread for more information: Click here.

Statement from National User Survivor Network: Click here.
Current hashtags: #CoronaVirusBill #CoronavirusBillUK

Inclusion London is driving the campaign about this. Find out more, and find details of how to write to your MP at the Inclusion London website here: Click here.


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