Inquiry into challenging decisions about adult social care

Our action

In 2021 we launched an inquiry into how older and disabled adults and unpaid carers can challenge local council decisions about social care and support in England and Wales.

What this covers

We wanted to understand people’s experiences of challenging, or trying to challenge, local council decisions about adult social care or support.

We wanted to know whether:

  • the existing ways of challenging decisions are effective and accessible

  • people are given enough information about their rights to care and support, and how they can challenge decisions

  • people can access high- quality advocacy support to help them challenge decisions

  • local councils and other bodies learn from challenges to improve decision-making in future

  • there are effective systems in place to check that decisions are made well the first time round.

We gathered evidence from people who have challenged, or wanted to challenge, decisions made about social care or support.

We surveyed 153 local authorities.

We heard from 332 adults who access social care, and their carers and representatives.

We interviewed 41 people who are using or seeking social care, and their carers.

We also heard from people who worked in social care professionally; for example:

  • advocacy providers

  • older and disabled people’s organisations

  • statutory bodies

  • professional associations, and

  • legal experts

We looked at research and policy papers on this subject. We also reviewed complaints reports from some local authorities to see what was learnt from complaints that were made.

Why we are involved

All decisions made by local councils about adult social care and support should comply with equality and human rights standards and with social care laws in England and Wales. There is a duty to promote wellbeing and take into account the views and wishes of the person concerned.

These decisions have a serious impact on the equal participation and rights of many disabled and older adults, as well as unpaid carers. Such decisions can affect whether they:

  • have choice, control and dignity in their day-to-day lives
  • can maintain relationships
  • can live independently and participate in their communities

It is important that people can easily challenge a decision if they feel it leaves them without the right care or support. It is also important that there are ways to check that decisions are being made well first time.

The social care system is under pressure and COVID-19 has made many of the existing problems worse.

It has led to numerous reports of reduced care packages and people’s needs not being met. With important decisions being made in a system under pressure, it is all the more vital that there are effective ways for people to challenge decisions that may be wrong, and to check that good decisions are being made the first time round.

Find out more about what types of decisions are relevant to this inquiry and what questions we will explore by reading the terms of reference for this inquiry (includes British Sign Language and easy read).

Watch our webinar on protecting and promoting the rights of people using social care [YouTube]

Help and advice

If you require further support please contact one of the organisations below: