Historic act to protect carers fails in its first year, Revitalise finds
FOI requests reveal disabled people and carers actually worse off since the launch of the Care Act.
One year on from its launch, the long-awaited Care Act, billed as the most significant reform of social care law in over 60 years and promising to safeguard the well-being of disabled people and carers, has failed in its first year, a charity study has found.
The new research from national disabled people’s charity Revitalise found that over half (55%) of England’s local authorities had spent less overall on services for disabled people and carers* since the Care Act came into being than in the year before – to the tune of an incredible £397 million – and 42% had reduced their spending on respite provision by an average of nearly £900,000 each.
A central pillar of the Care Act was the legal entitlement of all disabled people and carers to an assessment of their support needs. However, the Revitalise study, based on Freedom of Information (FOI) requests, found that local authorities gave fewer Needs Assessments for disabled people during the first year of the Care Act than in the year before it, and half (48%) had carried out an average of 22% fewer Carer Assessments during the same period.
A parallel survey of disabled people and carers mirrored the FOI findings. Over half (53%) of the disabled people and carers surveyed by Revitalise said the funding they received had been reduced or not kept pace with inflation over the past year. As a consequence, two thirds (66%) said they felt more isolated and had been forced to reduce their time spent taking valuable respite, and 44% said they were now struggling to make ends meet.
Despite prominent support from central government, the failure of the Care Act was amply demonstrated by Revitalise’s research. 7 out of 10 (69%) disabled people and carers told the charity they were unaware of any changes to their entitlements as a result of the Care Act and half (49%) said the services they received had got worse since the Act’s introduction.