Care and Support Bill 2012

Earlier this summer the government published the Care and Support Bill. This is the promised new adult social care legislation referred to in the Queen’s Speech.

One of the key issues is adult safeguarding, putting this on to a statutory footing. However, the provisions in the Bill are disappointing. The statutory framework is extremely limited and provides:

  • A regime to establish Safeguarding Adults Boards
  • Details of the membership, strategy and requirement for an Annual Report of Safeguarding Adults Boards.
  • A statutory duty of enquiry by a local authority
  • A statutory duty to undertake a safeguarding review.

Statutory Duty to undertake enquiry

Section 34 of the Bill provides that where a local authority has reasonable cause to suspect that an adult in its area has needs for care and support, is experiencing or is at risk of abuse or neglect, and as a result of those needs is unable to protect himself against the abuse or neglect, then the local authority must make or cause to be made whatever enquiries it thinks necessary to decide whether any action should be taken and if so what, and by whom.

Abuse is defined simply as “including”;

(a) Having money or other property stolen
(b) Being defrauded
(c) Being put under pressure in relation to money or other property
(d) Having money or other property misused.

Safeguarding Adults Reviews

Section 36 of the Bill requires a Safeguarding Adults Board to arrange for a review when:

An adult in their area with needs for care and support was, or is suspected to be, experiencing abuse or neglect, and
the adult dies or there is reasonable cause for concern about how the Safeguarding Adults Board or some other person in the case acted.
This provides a wide ranging need for the new Boards to undertake a review following a death. Even if there is no death, if there is concern about how someone involved in a safeguarding case acted, then a review is required. This is clearly an extremely wide definition.

Comment

The Bill is disappointingly thin on detail and real reform. Adult safeguarding is an area crying out for a proper statutory framework to combat the inconsistency of approach by local authorities, the lack of a proper definition of abuse, and a lack of a proper system prescribing how adult safeguarding should be implemented.

The Bill as drafted misses an opportunity to make a real contribution to improving the law. Has no-one properly briefed the parliamentary draftsman?

Andrew Parsons
e: andrew.parsons@rlb-law.com
t: 020 7227 7282

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