Skip to navigation

Fact sheet

Legislation and Policy

This covers the key legislation and Government policy applying to carers. Here you can find out what the rights carers’ have and what Government would like statutory organisations to do for carers in England.

Below is a brief overview of Acts of Parliament that are relevant to carers. A good summary of the law relating to carers is by Prof Luke Clements: Carers and their Rights (4th ed)

Draft Care and Support Bill (July 2012)

The Government published the draft Care and Support Bill on 11 July 2012. It proposes a single, modern law for adult care and support that replaces existing outdated and complex legislation and includes new rights for adult carers. The draft Care and Support Bill will replace existing legislation (see below). Carers Trust strongly encourages carers and Network Partners to respond to the consultation and to feed into the Carers Trust response. You can do this in the following ways:

1. Read Carers Trust Briefings - Draft Care and Support Bill

Briefing 1: Short briefing on key clauses affecting carers (560 KB)
Briefing 2: Detailed briefing clause by clause (575 KB)
Briefing 3: What does the draft Care and Support Bill mean for young carers (637 KB)

2. Organise your own consultation event or contribute to a local consultation response with carers and local partners

3. Use Carers Trust Consultation Toolkit (402 KB) to help you put together a response – includes more information on the consultation process and top tips

Acts of Parliament

The Disabled Persons (Services, Consultation and Representation) Act (1986)
Section 8 says that consideration must be given as to whether a carer is able to continue to care for that person when assessing a disabled person’s needs.

The NHS and Community Care Act (1990)
This requires councils to involve families and carers when making plans to assist adults who are vulnerable.

In Scotland, this legal duty is incorporated into the Social Work (S) Act 1968 s12A.

The Carers (Recognition and Services) Act (1995); Carers and Disabled Children Act 2000; The Carers (Equal Opportunities) Act 2004

Between them, these acts:

  • Give all carers the right to have their needs assessed. Carers over 16, including parent carers of disabled children, are entitled to an assessment in their own right.
  • Place a duty on authorities to ensure that all carers know they are entitled to an assessment of their needs.
  • State that carers assessments should always consider a carer’s outside interests (work, study or leisure) when carrying out an assessment. They should also promote better joint working between councils and the health service, by giving local authorities the right to ask for assistance from other authorities in planning the provision of services for carers.
  • Empower local authorities to introduce voucher schemes for carer breaks services and extend powers of local authorities to provide more specific services for carers. These carer-specific services, which are not community care services, may be funded by direct payments to carers. N.B. The vouchers scheme for carers is not a feature of Scottish provision.

The cared for person can have services, in addition to those they are assessed as needing in their own right, as a result of the needs of the carer.

Carers and Disabled Children Act 2000 and Carers (Equal Opportunities) Act 2004 Combined Policy Guidance (DH 2005)

Work and Families Act 2006
This gives carers the right to request flexible working from their employer. Read more about carers' rights at work.

The Equality Act (2010)
Carers cannot be discriminated against because of their association to anybody who has one of the following characteristics: age, disability, gender reassignment, marital status, race, religion/belief, sex or sexual orientation. Thus, if a carer is caring for somebody who is disabled, they cannot be discriminated against because of something to do with that person’s disability.

View more legislation for England and Wales and Scotland.