Au revoir coronavirus Care Act easements

From today, 29 March 2021, lockdown regulations will replaced by a new set of regulations (Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Steps) (England) Regulations 2021 which will bring into force the Government’s roadmap out of lockdown.

As part of the Government’s one-year review of the Coronavirus Act provisions, the Department of Health and Social Care has confirmed that 12 provisions will be removed from the Coronavirus Act as they are no longer seen as necessary to respond to the pandemic. The one that directly concerns readers is that relating to the Care Act 2014.

Readers will recall that significant changes were made to the powers and duties under the Care Act 2014 by the Coronavirus Act 2020 section 15 and Schedule 12  (referred to as ‘easements’ in the statutory guidance) which related to local authority duties around the provision of adult social care.

The Care Act easements enabled local authorities to continue to meet the most urgent and acute needs in the face of Covid-19 by relaxing some duties in local authorities, allowing them to streamline assessment and charge for care retrospectively.

In the Government’s one-year review, it confirmed that only eight local authorities in England had operated under Care Act easements – and none since 29 June 2020. Despite initial concerns over the impact of the pandemic, the review said that local authorities had coped with “significant pressures over winter using the existing Care Act flexibilities and are now in a better position in terms of planning, support and use of mutual aid.”

The review said there was strong support from groups representing people who need care and support for expiring the provision “as the social care workforce…have remained reasonably resilient under significant pressure, and continued to deliver these duties without the need to operate under easements.”

Of course previous provisions relating to the Mental Health Act 1983 were removed in December 2020.

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