The human rights watchdog has launched an inquiry into how older and disabled people can complain about decisions made regarding their social care.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) will examine how decisions made by local authorities about a person’s entitlement to social care can be meaningfully challenged in England and Wales.
It launched the probe after organisations supporting older and disabled people raised concerns that they face barriers to complaining about or challenging decisions regarding their care.
The inquiry will look at whether the existing ways to challenge decisions are accessible and effective, including whether those affected are given adequate advice and support, and can obtain redress.
It will also examine whether councils and other bodies learn from challenges, and whether there are effective systems to monitor the quality and consistency of decision-making.
The EHRC will gather evidence from social care recipients, organisations that provide advice and support, and local and national government.
It has launched a short survey to get views from social care users, their families and unpaid carers.
It will publish a report on its findings in 2022.
EHRC chairwoman Baroness Kishwer Falkner said: “Decisions about social care and support carry crucial equality and human rights implications for people’s lives.
“They can affect the choice, control and dignity of older people, disabled people and unpaid carers, and their ability to maintain relationships, live independently and participate in their communities.
“We know that the social care system has been under significant pressure and many problems have been exacerbated by the pandemic.
“With vital decisions about people’s care being made under such pressure, it is essential that there are effective ways to challenge them if people feel they have been left without the support they need.
“That is why we are using our legal powers to launch this inquiry, to help make sure that everyone can live a dignified life and that people can speak up if they feel a decision has left them without the right care.”