The National Assistance Act 1948 is dead, long live the Care Act 2014. Today, the adult social care provisions of the Care Act come into force, 66 years after the National Assistance Act 1948 laid the foundations of modern adult social care. The last of the great post-war Beveridge Statutes will pass out of law.
By the twenty first century the 1948 Act was showing its age. The language it used to described social care users was outdated and stigmatising. It contained highly paternalistic elements thought to violate human rights standards. And over the ensuing 66 years since it was passed it had been amended and supplemented by, in the words of the Law Commission, ‘a confusing patchwork of conflicting statutes’, resulting in an area of law notorious for its ‘tortuous complexity’. It had had its day.
But as we enter a new Care Act age, let’s not forget what the National Assistance Act represented. It…
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