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Legal and reputational risks to councils in adult social care growing, lawyers say

The legal and reputational risks to councils in relation to adult social care are growing, a survey of lawyers carried out by Local Government Lawyer in association with LexisNexis has revealed.

Of the 56 lawyers surveyed, more than three quarters (77%) reported a heightened risk to councils’ reputations, while three fifths (63%) said the legal risks had grown.

Other key findings in the Adult Social Care 2017 Supplement – published this week – include:

  • The most difficult aspect of the Care Act 2014 with which to comply is the duty to integrate the provision of care and support with the provision of health and health-related services. This was followed by the duty to promote and develop a market in services and the general duty to promote the well-being of an individual.
  • Two thirds of respondents (67%) reported that the number of applications made to court by their local authority had increased by more than 100% as a result of the Supreme Court ruling in Cheshire West.
  • Judicial review of appeals on decisions about needs for care and support was seen as the greatest legal risk in terms of compliance with the Care Act. This was followed by judicial review of appeals on financing of care, and judicial review of the failure to fulfil general duties.
  • Cultural differences or a lack of trust between organisations was seen as the greatest barrier to greater integration of social care provision with health services. This was followed by the lack for sources, and complexity of legal issues and agreements.

The survey also found that 94% of the lawyers surveyed considered the legal workload relating to social care to have increased substantially.

Social care legal work is also seen by 93% to be becoming a dedicated specialism.

READ OUR ADULT SOCIAL CARE 2017 SUPPLEMENT – in addition to the findings from our survey and a report on a roundtable discussion of senior lawyers, the publication looks at the impact of the Care Act 2014, the Law Commission’s proposed replacement of the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards, the challenges of health and social care integration, how to tackle bed blocking and much more.