My good colleague Steve Brett has drawn to my attention the Impact Assessment for the Coronavirus Bill produced by the Department of Health and Social Care. It is an important document as it explains (among other things) the Government’s reasons (its ‘justification’) for the measures. The document can be accessed by clicking here – and in relation to social care, the key pages are 20 / 21. ‘Stand out’ extracts include:
- These changes to the Care Act 2014 would only be triggered if the spread of coronavirus was such that the Secretary of State considered LAs to be at imminent risk of failing to fulfil their duties under the Care Act 2014 and would be deactivated at the conclusion of the emergency period. Even during the operation of these changes, LAs would still be expected to continue meeting all of their duties under the Act if they are able to do so. …
- However, during the peak, adult social care services will face surging demand and reduced capacity arising from higher rates of staff absence. This may make it impossible for LAs to continue to deliver at current service levels, or undertake the detailed assessments they would usually provide. ….
- In such circumstances it is crucial that LAs should be able to prioritise care in order to protect life and reach rapid decisions over the provision of care without undertaking full Care Act compliant assessments.
- These provisions, which would only be brought into operation for the shortest possible time at the peak of the coronavirus outbreak. Without these provisions, LAs would be constrained by existing assessments, which could result in them maintaining these at the expense of new, more urgent needs, or prevent them from allocating scarce support purely on the basis of severity of need. Such decisions could be inhibited by the fear of legal challenge under the Care Act
- These provisions would also provide Secretary of State with a power to direct LAs to comply with Government guidance regarding the principles they should follow when prioritising care.