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County council threatened with legal challenge over decision to use Care Act ‘easements’

Derbyshire County Council is facing a potential legal challenge over its decision to use the Care Act easements under the Coronavirus Act 2020.

Claimant law firm Rook Irwin Sweeney tweeted: “We've sent a letter before claim to Derbyshire CC regarding their decision to operate under the Coronavirus Act easements, which allow LAs not to meet their adult social care duties under the Care Act 2014 during the #coronavirusuk pandemic if specific conditions are met.

“It’s very unclear even from Derbyshire County Council's own website when the decision was taken and who will be affected by this decision – serious concern about lack of transparency.”

Rook Irwin Sweeney has instructed Steve Broach of 39 Essex Chambers on the challenge.

Derbyshire is one of eight local authorities so far to have notified the Department of Health & Social Care (DHSC) of their use of the Care Act ‘easements’.

Middlesbrough Council was one of the eight but has since returned to full Care Act duties.

A spokesperson for Derbyshire County Council said: “To help ensure we can support people to return home from hospital and help the NHS free up beds to care for people who become unwell as a result of the coronavirus, we have to focus our resources on meeting the most serious and urgent care needs.

“These temporary changes are designed to help us respond quickly to the pandemic and enable us to ensure Derbyshire’s most vulnerable residents are supported."

The spokesperson added: “Following an assessment of all clients, we have suspended, reduced or changed some non-essential homecare services in line with changes to government legislation for those people who have support of family and friends.

“These arrangements have been agreed with everyone affected and will be reviewed regularly to ensure people can continue to manage with the reductions in their support packages.”

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