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Disability and the Law: Carers

A number of United Kingdom Acts are listed in this section for information. These Acts relate to disability, equality, carers and information. We have taken great care that the information in this section is accurate and up to date. But we would advise that before using the sections of the act you are interested in to check they are still in force and up to date.

You can do this by checking the following link here

You must also remember that case law can also have an effect on the acts or sections of the act.

The Care Act 2014

The Care Act 2014 came into effect in April 2015 and replaced most previous laws regarding those requiring care and their carer. It is regarded as one of the most significant reforms, with the aim of putting people and their carers in control of their care and support.

Among the most significant changes established due to this act are:

  • A new set of criteria as to when Local Authorities should be providing support
  • A change to the way in which local authorities complete assessments with those in need of support
  • New rights for carers which put them on the same footing as the people they care for.
  • A greater emphasis on protecting the most vulnerable people in society from abuse and neglect
  • A greater emphasis on prevention - local authorities and other providers of support will encourage and assist people to lead healthy lives which will reduce the chances of them needing increased support in the future
  • A greater emphasis on local authorities to provide clear information and advice to help people make informed choices on their support arrangements
  • A greater emphasis on existing Personal Budgets
  • A greater emphasis on those most in need being given access to an advocate when they are dealing with social care professionals
  • Greater regulation for those who provide professional care and support, and tougher penalties for those who do not provide care and support of a high enough standard
  • Changes to when and how people will be asked to contribute towards the cost of support which has been arranged in conjunction with their local authority - most of these changes will not come into effect until 2020.

The Care Act is mainly for adults in need of care and support, and their adult carers. There are some provisions for the transition of children in need of care and support, parent carers of children in need of care and support, and young carers. However the main provisions for these groups (before transition) are in the Children and Families Act 2014.

For access to the Care act 2014 factsheets please, click here

The Carers (Equal Opportunities) Act 2004

The Carers (Equal Opportunities) Act came into force in April 2005 and is intended to provide a firm foundation for better practice by councils and the health service. It builds on existing legislation and support for carers by:

  • placing a duty on local authorities to ensure that all carers know that they are entitled to an assessment of their needs.
  • placing a duty on councils to consider a carer’s outside interests (work, study or leisure) when carrying out an assessment.
  • promoting better joint working between councils and the health service to ensure support for carers is delivered in a coherent manner.

Carers (Recognition And Services) Act 1995

This Act puts a duty on the local authority (social services department) to carry out a carers assessment, if the carer provides or intends to provide a substantial amount of care on a regular basis. The carer can request an assessment before the cared-for person is assessed, if they wish and the local authority must take this into account when deciding on the services to be offered for the cared-for person.

For links to this act please see the following link: Carers (Recognition and Services) Act 1995

Carers And Disabled Children Act 2000

Under the Carers and Disabled Children Act 2000, carers aged 16 or over who provide a regular and substantial amount of care for someone aged 18 or over have the right to an assessment of their needs as a carer.

If there is more than one carer providing regular care in your household, you are both entitled to an assessment. Very occasionally, a 16 or 17 year old who cares for someone for a limited period may be entitled to an assessment. The local council has a responsibility to make sure a young carer’s own well-being is looked after and that they receive the necessary support.

If you have parental responsibility for a disabled child, your needs as a carer will be assessed as part of a family needs assessment. You have the right to a family needs assessment under The Children Act 1989. You do not need to be the mother or father of the child.

Data Protection Act 1998

The Data Protection Act's rules are quite complex, but at the heart of it are eight common sense rules known as the 'data protection principles'.

These principles require any organisation, corporation or governmental body that collects personal information to handle it safely. Anyone collecting personal information must:

  • fairly and lawfully process it
  • process it only for limited, specifically stated purposes
  • use the information in a way that is adequate, relevant and not excessive
  • use the information accurately
  • keep the information on file no longer than absolutely necessary
  • process the information in accordance with your legal rights
  • keep the information secure
  • never transfer the information outside the UK without adequate protection

All organisations collecting and using personal information are legally required to comply with these principles.
The law provides stronger protection for more sensitive information - such as your ethnic background, political opinions, religious beliefs, health, sexual life or any criminal history. It is enforced by an independent information commissioner, who can take action against any company or governmental body that fails to protect your information, or that abuses its right to collect and hold that information.

Freedom of Information Act 2000

The FOI gives you the right to ask any public body for all the information they have on any subject you choose. Also, unless there's a good reason, the organisation must provide the information within a month.

The Freedom of Information Act applies to all 'public authorities' including:

  • Government departments and local assemblies
  • local authorities and councils
  • health trusts, hospitals and doctors' surgeries
  • schools, colleges and universities
  • publicly funded museums
  • the police
  • lots of other non-departmental public bodies, committees and advisory bodies

Any person can make a request for information under the Act - there are no restrictions on your age, nationality, or where you live.