One year on: our inquiry into challenging local council decisions about adult social care

Published: 14 March 2024

A year ago, we published our inquiry into challenging decisions about adult social care in England and Wales. Social care decisions affect the rights of many disabled and older people. We wanted to find out if people can easily challenge a decision they feel is wrong.

We found that:

  • information about social care was often inaccessible
  • routes for individuals to challenge decisions were confusing and drawn-out
  • people faced obstacles in accessing advocacy or legal support
  • opportunities to learn from complaints were missed

Our inquiry underlined the importance of proper scrutiny of adult social care decision-making. We called on governments and other relevant bodies to act on our recommendations.

Over the past year, we have promoted our inquiry report and run well-attended webinars. We are happy to see several bodies responsible for social care acting on our recommendations.

Our inquiry made recommendations to the Care Quality Commission (CQC) to inform their new role under the Health and Care Act 2022 assessing how local authorities are meeting their Care Act 2014 duties. We are encouraged to see that pilot assessments undertaken by CQC to test its new single assessment framework have reported on issues we identified in our inquiry.

We welcome the Welsh Government’s recent commitment to update a code of practice on social care. This update will help local authorities fully consider international standards on older and disabled people’s rights. It is in line with our inquiry recommendations.

We are also working with Partners in Care and Health to help local authorities improve information and advice provision. We are contributing to a toolkit for local authorities. Our input will help ensure the toolkit covers legal standards for equality and accessibility. This toolkit will be published soon.

While we welcome the steps taken so far, there is still much more to do. The UK government has yet to respond to our inquiry report. We are committed to ensuring our inquiry recommendations are put in place.

Our inquiry recommendations are part of wider reforms needed to ensure that social care protects equality and human rights. Since our inquiry report, we have published our ‘Approach to Social Care’. It sets out the equality and human rights standards we expect governments, commissioners and providers to achieve when designing and delivering social care services. We encourage all social care commissioners and providers to use this approach.