Law Commission invited to review legislation on social care for disabled children

The Law Commission of England and Wales has been asked by the Department for Education to review the legal framework governing the social care of disabled children to ensure that the law is fair, modern and accessible, allowing children with disabilities to access the support they need.  

The law on children’s social care is currently governed by a patchwork of legislation – some of which dates back more than five decades. This has contributed to variation in service provision by local authorities, and unnecessarily complicated routes to accessing support for the parents and care givers of disabled children.

The proposed Law Commission project was recommended in the 2022 Independent Review of Children’s Social Care, which heard from families of disabled children struggling to understand what support they are entitled to and how to access it. The project would also play a role in the Government’s ongoing programme for children’s social care reform, particularly the Children’s Social Care Strategy and Consultation and the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Improvement Plan 

The overarching aim of the Law Commission’s review would be to simplify and strengthen the law, ensuring that the system is fair and works for parents, care givers and local authorities. 

Claire Coutinho, the Minister for Children, Families and Wellbeing has asked the Law Commission’s to undertake a review of the law, and set out the following objectives: 

  • To recommend a solution to the patchwork of legislation that currently governs social care for disabled children. 
  • To improve how the law on social care for disabled children fits in with the law relating to children’s social care more broadly. 
  • To recommend a route to review the outdated language and definitions underpinning the law on social care for disabled children. 

Next steps 

Commissioners will now consider the request and officials will work to agree terms of reference and a timetable for the project. The Commission will release further information on the scope and timeline of the review once the project is formally agreed. The Commission has taken immediate steps to recruit a lawyer to conduct the anticipated project. 

Lawyer vacancy 

The Law Commission is currently looking for lawyers to join the Public Law and Law in Wales team. Disabled children’s social care is highlighted as a desirable area of expertise. Any lawyer interested in this important area of reform is encouraged to apply. Applications close at 23:59 on Wednesday 26 April.

More information is available here.