Law Commission report on adult social care

In 2008, the Law Commission (a statutory independent body) announced it would consult on proposals to review the legislation governing adult social care, in order to consolidate it into a single statute.

The final report was published in May 2011 and recommended far-reaching reform of the social care system. It concluded that the legal framework for social care was too fragmented and, therefore, too difficult to interpret and understand. As a result, the commission recommended the creation of a unified statute to govern the system.

The commission suggested a three-level approach to restructuring the legislation:

  • level 1 – a single statute outlining the duties and powers of local authorities
  • level 2 – statutory instruments such as regulations
  • level 3 – statutory guidance.

For the single statute, the commission advocated that the governing principle of the adult social care system should be to continually promote and support the wellbeing of individuals and to involve individuals in decision making.

Other key recommendations included:

  • the introduction of two levels of service: one universal and another targeted. The former would have a wider and preventative focus. The latter approach would arise following a community-based assessment. Furthermore, assessments should focus on the individual's care and support needs, rather than on service-led considerations. There should also be a duty to assess carers for their ability to manage caring for another individual
  • a proposal to place a duty on local authorities to ensure production of a care and support plan for people with assessed needs
  • the creation of a legal framework for the rolling out of personal budgets.

Ultimately, the Care Act 2014 implemented many of the Law Commission's recommendations.


Law Commission.
Adult Social Care.
HMSO; 2011.