Read the Rights in Peril report

About the project

When it came into force on 1 April 2015, the Care Act 2014 ushered in an age of optimism for adults with disabilities and health conditions and their carers. The Care Act 2014 sought to consolidate, strengthen and expand legal duties owed by Councils to adults in need of social care services and their carers. In addition to reaffirming the importance of well-trodden duties to assess needs, develop support plans and provide services, the Care Act 2014 placed Councils under new general duties to, amongst other things, promote wellbeing and prevent
development of future needs. Crucially, the Care Act 2014 contains key legal duties and powers owed by councils to adults in need of social care services and their carers, and the corresponding legal rights enjoyed by adults and carers who may need social care support.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the UK Government made changes to the legal rights that people rely on when accessing social care services under the Care Act 2014. The Coronavirus Act 2020 introduced ‘Easements’ to the Care Act 2014, which diluted the legal rights people had under the legislation. The rights affected were:

• The right to a needs assessment

• The right to a carer’s assessment

• The right to a financial assessment

• The right to a care and support plan

• The right to regular reviews of care and support plans

• The right to have eligible care and support needs met through provision of care and support services

The duties that the Care Act 2014 placed on councils in relation to these rights were replaced by powers by the Coronavirus Act 2020. In order to rely on the Care Act Easements, and therefore depart from the legal duties placed on them by the Care Act 2014, councils had to follow a decision-making process and notify the Department of Health and Social Care.

Only a small number of councils around the country notified the Department of Health and Social Care that they had made a decision to rely on Care Act Easements. This included several Midlands’ councils in the area served by Central England Law Centre.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, we at CELC were very concerned about the potential impact of the introduction of Easements on adults with social care needs and carers, which significantly diluted legal rights.

With support from the Baring Foundation, we conducted research into the impact Easements had on legal rights.


With funding from the Baring Foundation, in 2020 Central England Law Centre embarked on a one-year applied legal project, the ‘Rights in Peril Project’, to:

  • Seek to explore the impact of the pandemic on adults with care and support needs and their carers in Birmingham, Coventry, Solihull and Warwickshire.
  • Highlight the importance of legal rights in social care.

How we achieved this

We gathered information and evidence from adults with needs for care and support and their carers, organisations that provide services to these groups and councils by having stakeholder conversations, carrying out interviews, taking on cases and reviewing case files, sending surveys and making Freedom of Information Act requests.

About The Baring Foundation

The Baring Foundation is an independent foundation which protects and advances human rights and promotes inclusion. The Baring Foundation believes in the role of a strong, independent civil society nationally and internationally. It uses resources to enable civil society to work with people experiencing discrimination and disadvantage and to act strategically to tackle the root causes of injustice and inequality.

Through its ‘Strengthening Civil Society’ programme, the Baring Foundation aims to boost engagement and support organisations within broader civil society to embrace law and human rights-based approaches as effective tools for achieving change for individuals and communities. It also aims to build sustainable collaborations, partnerships and networks that leverage existing expertise within the sector to ensure the use of these approaches is as effective as possible.

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