Eight local authorities have so far notified the Department of Health & Social Care (DHSC) of their use of the Care Act ‘easements’ introduced by the Coronavirus Act 2020, it has been confirmed.
In a letter sent to claimant law firm Bindmans yesterday (29 April), the DHSC said seven local authorities using the easements currently were:
- Sunderland City Council;
- Warwickshire County Council;
- Staffordshire County Council;
- Birmingham City Council;
- Solihull Council;
- Derbyshire County Council; and
- Coventry City Council.
Middlesbrough Council had notified the Department it was operating under the easements but it has since told the DHSC it has returned to full Care Act duties.
The DHSC said the list of local authorities operating under easements is to be made publicly available on the internet soon. “Until this is published, DHSC will regularly share a list of local authorities operating under easements with the National Adult Social Care Covid-19 Group.”
That group is chaired by the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services and consists of representatives from local government, regulators, providers and user and carer groups.
The DHSC said in the letter: “The Care Act easements introduced by the Coronavirus Act 2020 put in place a range of measures to help the care system manage pressures caused by Covid-19. Local authorities should do everything they can to continue meeting their existing duties prior to the Coronavirus Act 2020 provisions coming into force.
“In the event that they are unable to do so, it is essential that they are able to streamline Care Act assessment arrangements and prioritise care so that the most urgent and acute needs are met. The powers in the Coronavirus Act enable them to prioritise more effectively where necessary than would be possible under the Care Act 2014 prior to its amendment. They are time-limited and are there to be used as narrowly as possible.”
The letter also said that the work is currently being led by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and Think Local, Act Personal to understand and share the impact of COVID-19 and the Care Act easements on individuals, providers and systems. “The notifications received by DHSC are being fed into this work, which is underlined by principles of transparency and no criticism.”