Department of Health’s response to the National Autistic Society’s campaign, Careless.
The Care Act 2014 will introduce a modern system that promotes people’s wellbeing by enabling them to prevent and postpone the need for care and support. It will put them in control of their lives to pursue opportunities and realise their potential, including in education and employment. The Act will be implemented from April 2015. To support the implementation of the Act, the department published draft regulations and statutory guidance for consultation on 6 June.
The new system that the government is introducing through the Act will clarify and strengthen the processes to support people who are at risk of abuse or neglect. The Act will make safeguarding vulnerable adults a legal requirement for the first time, and this will work alongside the care and support system to help those most at risk in our communities.
Where local authorities have reasonable cause to suspect a person is at risk of abuse or neglect, they must carry out a safeguarding enquiry, consider what, if any, actions are needed, and who should carry these out. This makes clear that there is no eligibility threshold, and allows authorities flexibility to respond to a safeguarding issue appropriately, which may be through the authority or one of its partners such as the NHS or police, rather than through care and support.
The draft guidance clarifies that where a local authority has started a safeguarding enquiry, and identifies a potential need for care and support, it should continue the needs assessment at the same time, and determine whether the person has eligible needs that it must meet.
The Care Act and its associated regulations and statutory guidance have been developed with interested parties such as charities and local government. The government welcomes the National Autistic Society’s comments, and these will be taken into account when the department finalises the eligibility regulations and guidance.