Older man and woman

Inquiry into challenging decisions about adult social care

Our action

We have 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.

Survey now open

We’ve launched a survey to hear from those affected by the issues covered by our inquiry. Complete our survey to help with our inquiry.

Closing date: 15 September 2021.

What this covers

Local councils make a number of decisions that affect people’s access to social care and support. This includes whether they are entitled to care or support and, if so, how much and what kind of care or support they can access.

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

We want 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.

Read the terms of reference

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 the inquiry.

Watch the BSL introduction to this inquiry [YouTube].

Read the Easy Read introduction to this inquiry [1.3MB PDF]

We want to hear from you

We want hear from older and disabled adults and unpaid adult carers across England and Wales, as well as any friends or family members who want to share information with us.

We also want to gather evidence from:

  • local councils
  • ombuds
  • legal advice and advocacy organisations
  • voluntary sector organisations and other experts.

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.

We raised concerns recently about the impact of the pandemic on disabled people living in care homes in England (193KB, Word)  and Wales (191KB, Word). We are also working on strengthening disabled people’s right to live independently across all areas of life.

The need for reform and additional, sustainable funding for social care is widely acknowledged.

We are considering how we can further support and inform the UK and Welsh Governments’ reform plans over the coming year.

Help and advice

We cannot give legal advice. Providing assistance to challenge a decision is not part of this inquiry. 

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

Contact us about this inquiry

You can get in touch with us to ask a question or submit evidence by emailing the social care inquiry team.

You can also call 0161 829 8180 and leave a message, and a member of the inquiry team will get back to you.      

Please contact us if you require any other accessible formats or reasonable adjustments to engage with the inquiry.

Last updated: 19 Jul 2021