Adult Social Care

Status: This project is complete. The Care Act 2014 implements our recommendations in England. It received Royal Assent on 14 May 2014. The Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014, which implements our recommendations in Wales, received Royal Assent on 1 May 2014

The adult social care project was concerned with reviewing the law relating to the provision of adult social care in England and Wales.

The legislative framework for adult residential care, community care, adult protection and support for carers is inadequate, often incomprehensible and outdated. To this day, it remains a confusing patchwork of conflicting statutes enacted over a period of 60 years. There is no single, modern statute to which service providers and service users can look to understand whether (and, if so, what kind of) services can or must be provided.

The overall aim of the project was to provide a clearer, modern and more cohesive framework for adult social care. 


On 11 July 2012 the Government issued a response to our report and a draft Care and Support Bill implementing our recommendations. We issued a statement welcoming the Government's response.

On 8 May 2013 we were pleased to welcome the announcement in the Queen's Speech of the Care Bill for introduction during the new Parliament. The Bill was introduced into the House of Lords by Earl Howe on 9 May 2013, receiving Royal Assent on 14 May 2014.

The Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Bill, implementing our recommended reforms to adult social care in Wales, was laid before the National Assembly for Wales on 28 January 2013. The Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 received Royal Assent on 1 May 2014.

The Care Act 2014 sets out a new legal framework for the provision of care and support services to older and disabled people, and their carers, plus safeguarding vulnerable adults from abuse and neglect.  The Act will come into force in April 2015.

The Care Act Manual (2014) by Tim Spencer-Lane provides a comprehensive and crucial guide to the new legislation.  It gives the practitioner text on all aspects of the new Act.  A further description of the Manual and details of how to obtain it are available.

The project

We published a scoping report on 26 November 2008, which delineated the scope of the project and provided a detailed agenda for reform. The scoping report is available below.

On 24 February 2010, we published a consultation paper setting out a number of provisional proposals to reform the law governing adult social care in England and Wales. We then undertook a broad public consultation on these provisional proposals, which closed on 1 July 2010. The consultation paper and analysis of responses are both available below.

Following consultation, we formulated our final recommendations for reform set out in the final report.

Our recommendations

Our final recommendations are set out in the report, Adult Social Care, which we published on 11 May 2011. This landmark report on social care recommends the most far-reaching reforms of adult social care law seen for over 60 years. We believe the recommendations will bring much needed clarity and accessibility to this key area of the law, which touches the lives of so many citizens.

The publication of the final report marked the completion of the Law Commission’s project on adult social care. We welcomed the announcement in the Queen's Speech on 9 May 2012 of a draft Bill on adult social care. 


Leading figures in the social care field discuss our recommendations in a Community Care podcast.

What reform could mean

Frances Patterson QC, Public Law Commissioner, talks to Community Care magazine about what a single statute could mean for social workers:

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Dr Ros Altmann, Director-General of Saga, responds to our report and calls for fundamental reform:

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