‘Care Act’ Factsheet 1 General Responsibilities of Local Authorities – Updated, 2016

Factsheet 1: General responsibilities of local authorities: prevention, information and advice, and shaping the market of care and support services

“The Care Act helps to improve people’s independence and wellbeing. It makes clear that local authorities must provide or arrange services that help prevent people developing needs for care and support or delay people deteriorating such that they would need ongoing care and support.

Local authorities have to consider various factors:

  • what services, facilities and resources are already available in the area (for example local voluntary and community groups), and how these might help local people
  • identifying people in the local area who might have care and support needs that are not being met
  • identifying carers in the area who might have support needs that are not being met

In taking on this role, local authorities need to work with their communities and provide or arrange services that help to keep people well and independent. This should include identifying the local support and resources already available, and helping people to access them.

Local authorities should also provide or arrange a range of services which are aimed at reducing needs and helping people regain skills, for instance after a spell in hospital. They should work with other partners, like the NHS, to think about what types of service local people may need now and in the future.”

How does the Act improve information and advice?

“Local authorities need to provide comprehensive information and advice about care and support services in their local area. This is to help people to understand how care and support services work locally, the care and funding options available, and how people can access care and support services.

The Act clearly sets out that they must provide information on:

  • what types of care and support are available – e.g. specialised dementia care, befriending services, reablement, personal assistance, residential care etc
  • the range of care and support services available to local people, i.e. what local providers offer certain types of services
  • what process local people need to use to get care and support that is available
  • where local people can find independent financial advice about care and support and help them to access it
  • how people can raise concerns about the safety or wellbeing of someone who has care and support needs

Local authorities must also help people to benefit from independent financial advice, so that they can get support to plan and prepare for the future costs of care.

All information and advice must be provided in formats that help people to understand, regardless of their needs. This may include a range of different types of information, and include working with partners to provide information on different services together.”

How will the Act improve the range and quality of services available?

“The Care Act requires local authorities to help develop a market that delivers a wide range of sustainable high-quality care and support services, that will be available to their communities.

When buying and arranging services, local authorities must consider how they might affect an individual’s wellbeing. This makes it clear that local authorities should think about whether their approaches to buying and arranging services support and promote the wellbeing of people receiving those services.

Local authorities should also engage with local providers, to help each other understand what services are likely to be needed in the future, and what new types of support should be developed. To do this, authorities should engage with local people about their needs and aspirations.

A wider range of high quality services will give people more control and help them to make more effective and personalised choices over their care. They should therefore get better care that works for them.”