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Reaction to Law Commission report

24 February 2010
Carers UK welcomes Law Commission proposals to overhaul law on care

Today (Wednesday 24 February 2010) Carers UK warmly welcomed the publication of the Law Commission's proposals to overhaul 60 years and 38 statutes of community care law to consolidate it into something which is simple to understand for disabled and older people, families and public authorities alike. The proposals could potentially benefit 5.2 million carers and their families throughout England and Wales.

Imelda Redmond, Chief Executive, said, "The present system has grown like topsy over many decades. As a result of this piecemeal growth, the law is complicated and unwieldy. Today there is a great deal of confusion and disagreements between professionals which means that many families are not getting the right help and inevitably they suffer needlessly as a result.

Carers UK has fought over the years for new rights for family and friends who care, unpaid, for someone who is ill or disabled. We have sought to plug glaring gaps in the law by securing three successful Private Members Bills – and several amendments to legislation. However, this has made community care law even more complex over the years and we firmly agree with the Law Commission that the time has come to modernise the law to make it simpler for everyone. In a survey carried out for Carers Week, 74% of carers were at breaking point and the main reason blamed for this by 41% of carers was "frustration with bureaucracy".

The proposals for carers would remove tests of providing regular and substantial care and having to request assessment which prevent carers from getting the help they need. Surveys carried out by Carers UK over the years have found that the complex system prevent carers from accessing their rights and support. For example, 90% of surveyed carers were eligible for an assessment, but only 38% of carers had received one and only 50% of carers had been told of their right to request an assessment. The right information, support and advice is vital for people who provide care – 77% of carers say that their health has suffered as a result of caring.

The need to reform social care has received a great deal of media attention in recent times and all three major political parties agree on this principle. It makes sense to review the underpinning legal base to social care as the delivery and funding base of care is reformed.

Imelda Redmond added, "We now have a once in a generation opportunity to modernise and bring the whole of our social care system up to date and meet the growing demand for the future."

In an era of tighter public funding, it makes sense to reduce unnecessary red tape and confusion about the law that all too often leads to litigation. It is vital that we make the law simpler for everyone to understand and ensure that local authorities spend more of their funds directly on services for local people.

-Ends –

Notes to Editors

1. Adult Social Care, The Law Commission consultation paper no. 192

2. Carers UK has been part of the Law Commission's advisory group.

3. According to the 2001 Census there are 5.2 million carers throughout England and Wales

4. The survey was carried out by Carers Wales in 2004 and a similar survey in England a year earlier with similar results.

5. 77% of carers health suffering was a result from a survey of over 2,000 carers providing substantial care as part of Carers Week 2009.

6. Carers UK is a campaigning, policy and information organisation of and for carers. Carers UK makes a difference to carers' lives by:

o Campaigning for a better deal for carers;

o Informing carers of their rights and what help is available

o Training and advising professionals who work with carers

o Working across the UK through its membership and networks of branches and affiliates.

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