Skip to main content

Care Act easements

BASW England Adults social work group response to Coronavirus Crisis

BASW England supported the the Care Act easements: guidance for local authorities (DHSC 1/4/20) when they were first introduced because of the urgency of the circumstances.

In the response published on 24th April we stated: "Given the necessary speed with which this guidance has been developed and published it is understandable that it did not address a number of key issues. It provides a useful starting point, but BASW England believes there is considerable scope for further guidance to be provided either by the DHSC or other organisations such as BASW, PSW Network, ADASS and SCIE.”

Once it became clear that easements were not being applied, it was no longer necessary to pursue this.

If these powers are to remain, we call on the Government to address the deficiencies in the original guidance and we will lend our support to this.

Our concerns about the guidance were previously expressed as follows:

  • "BASW England is concerned about the lack of guidance about process other than the requirement that a local authority “should still assess people’s social care and support needs… and should make a written record of this assessment”. The stated intention in the Explanatory Notes to the Coronavirus Bill was that the guidance would include support for local authorities in “making prioritisation decisions in a consistent, and ethical manner”. Although work has been done on developing an ethical framework that helps to guide decision-making, there is arguably a need for further guidance to ensure operational consistency and transparency. In particular there is concern about the lack of guidance on the duty to apply the ECHR, and the lack or recognition that this is an issue.”
  • "BASW England is concerned where local authorities apply the easement guidance, there may be not be a local framework within which social work professional judgements can be clearly and transparently located. We think that such a framework should be developed that adapts what has evolved from the application of the Care Act. There will always be a tension to be managed between the professional judgements of social workers about meeting people’s needs, and ensuring that the policy requirements of the employing body are adhered to. The Care and Support Statutory Guidance that accompanies the Care Act, provides a framework that aims to manage this tension in a fair and balanced way, and aims to be easily understood by service users and carers. Of course many social workers have ethical concerns about the application of this framework, but without a replacement we believe that ethical dilemmas will be exacerbated.”