VoiceAbility response to emergency Coronavirus Bill

Hundreds of thousands of disabled adults could lose their legal rights to social care under sweeping new powers contained in the emergency Coronavirus Bill published by the government this week.

Hundreds of thousands of disabled adults could lose their legal rights to social care under sweeping new powers contained in the emergency Coronavirus Bill published by the government this week.

The Bill gives the Secretary of State for Health the power to take away the legal duties on local authorities to meet disabled adults' social care needs. VoiceAbility fears this could leave some of the most at-risk people, such as those with learning disabilities, autism and multiple physical disabilities, in crisis and distress.

VoiceAbility Chief Executive Jonathan Senker said: “Whilst we all recognise the current extraordinary circumstances, it is disproportionate and potentially dangerous to entirely remove legal rights to social care. There are alternatives which would still give Local Authorities the ability to respond. Examples include maintaining the duties, but making them subject to it being reasonable and practicable to meet them.

“People with the greatest needs should be at the top of the list, not the bottom of the pile.

“We fear this could lead to unintended consequences where needs go unrecognised or unmet, and disabled people fall into crisis with severe consequences for them and further strain on emergency services.  

“We call on MPs and Peers to amend the Coronavirus Bill with more safeguards for people who rely on social care.” 

VoiceAbility’s concerns about the Coronavirus Bill include:

  • New powers for the Secretary of State for Health to disapply sections of the Care Act 2014 concerning the assessment of disabled adults and their carers.
  • Relaxation on limits on how long people can be detained under the Mental Health Act 1983 without review.

Read more news stories