Belinda’s direct action response to the government’s Autumn Statement – which effectively ignored the crisis in social care

After the New Year, Care and Health Law will no longer be offering half an hour of completely free advice about adult social care rights, to any and all individuals who ask for it, because Belinda is on her knees from doing so, and a girl has got to make a living somehow!

However, Belinda and other experts in the field will be selling their services to a new Charity, at a charitably low flat rate – a rate that enables advisers to sustain their expertise, whilst responding to the widespread evaporation in legal literacy in Adult Social Care.

The Charity will be called CASC-AIDr – the Centre for Adult Social Care Advice, Information and Dispute Resolution, to be precise. It will be online, virtual, and have no employees at all – just trustee directors, volunteers and relationships with self-employed advisers, lawyers or companies.

CASC-AIDr will work tirelessly for the furtherance of fairness and legal principle, in adult social services.

The service will commence in January 2017. The Charity will be funded by members of the public and housing and social care providers. Service users, family members and carers – even social workers! That is, anyone who thinks it’s better that there are some actual principles underpinning who gets what…

Enlightened business-savvy housing and social care providers will contribute, too.

Their financial security and sustainability is directly related to local authorities’ awareness (or otherwise) of people’s rights to a decent care package, and yet they are naturally uncomfortable about paying for their customers to have get advice about having a go at their purchaser.

One day, though, prospective customers may well ask providers if they support CASC-AIDr, before making a decision about the provider’s offer, so there’ll be a logo for a provider to add to its paperwork, acknowledging its contribution.

The suggested level of donation is £1 per client per year for companies, from any sector.

There are some 673,000 people having a state funded care package, at this moment.

MyDonate will be the platform for giving through – ensuring the maximisation of the value of donations.

Donations will of course be able to be made tax deductibly for companies, whilst the Treasury generously contributes GiftAid as well, for taxpayers’ contributions.

The logic is that housing and social care providers will be happy to make a donation that is tax deductible, to the running of a fund which their clients can access, without any visible link between them and the problem – with no connection between the timing and size of the payment, and the need for the advice or the size of the problem – all below the radar, so far as the local authority commissioner is concerned.

Why would anyone want to contribute?

CASC-AIDr will thrive, it is suggested, because the advocacy and advice sector, and even access to formal legal advice, have all been squeezed out of funding over the last few years.

The Treasury’s grip over austerity, and the dismantling of a senior policy team for social care in the Department of Health have meant that councils have been encouraged to ignore the new law that was supposed to modernise social services provision. Those councils have even been incapable of persuading their party political mates in government to put their money where their mouths were, when the Care Act was passed – no more money for social care in today’s autumn statement, despite widespread calls for action.

The Charity will fund the provision of expert analysis and consultancy about the legal framework – and ultimately access to direct public access barristers, skilled in this area of law.

The output for members of the public will be a succinct statement of why a council is in the wrong, if it is indeed in the wrong, and acting indefensibly, in terms of public law, regarding a person’s assessment of needs, eligibility, their care plan, their package or a review.

The advice will enable ordinary people to set out for councils’ management and Members why they will be successfully judicially reviewed, if they don’t apply the Care Act, defensibly and in good faith.

The advice output will be geared to the resolution of disputes rather than the generation of litigation, but over time, its existence will re-invigorate regard for legal principle amongst the workforce, management, legal staff and Members. And it will mean that legal framework training will be a necessary part of showing that a public sector body with statutory duties has got at least halfway competent knowledgeable staff!

Those council clients with the most intransigent and legally illiterate councils will get the most benefit from the Charity.

And those members of the public affected by the most strongly arguably illegal council decisions will be able to be supported to CROWDFUND, on a related site, for an application for permission for judicial review, regardless of their means.

This means that the systematic cuts to the Legal Aid system, and any government’s inevitable control of the central money supply for supporting the enforcement of people’s legal rights, won’t matter quite so much, in future.

 

Please contact me, Belinda Schwehr, on [email protected], if you would like to assure me of your support, or make suggestions, or ask me a question. PLEASE put the name ‘CASC-AIDr’ into the email header.

Here’s a survey monkey survey to help me focus the charity’s work!

Survey to identify what people think are the worst practices that need legal scrutiny

Belinda Schwehr

About Belinda Schwehr

Belinda has been a lawyer (both a barrister and then a solicitor advocate), a law lecturer at a university, and a trainer and consultant specialising in Adults' Social Care legal framework issues. She first became interested in social care law when the Gloucestershire case was running between 1995 and 1997, never having met a real live social worker, before that point! She regards social care as the most interesting field of law she has ever been associated with, combining aspects of public law, the regulation of power, economics, management skills, EU law, procurement, criminal law, incapacity law, land law and contract, and doesn't expect ever to tire of the stuff. If the Care Act is going to be the last word on it, however, she would like to think it was worth all that sitting there and getting fatter whilst thinking about how it should all hang together! She does glass craftwork and house renovations for a hobby, has one son in his twenties, and about 5000 online friends... soon to be 50,000, with any luck!

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