Closing the Loophole Campaign

BIHR's Campaign to Close the Human Rights Act Loophole

Background

In June 2007 the House of Lords ruled (in the ‘YL' case) that the Human Rights Act does not apply to private and voluntary sector care homes providing services under contract to local authorities. As a consequence, hundreds of thousands of older and disabled people in residential care were left without the protection they were promised when the Human Rights Act was passed by Parliament.

BIHR has been at the forefront of efforts to close this legal 'loophole', working closely with a variety of other organisations. During 2007 and early 2008, we convened a group of more than 15 age, disability and human rights organisations to explore legislative solutions.

This group successfully lobbied the Government to use the Health and Social Care Bill to confirm that private and voluntary sector organisations providing residential care services under contract to local authorities are in fact bound by the Human Rights Act on the basis that they are performing ‘functions of a public nature'. Section 145 of the Health and Social Care Act is the new provision of law which contains this change. Section 145 entered into force on 1 December 2008.

The Government has promised a consultation in the near future on the broader issue of the meaning of ‘public authority' under the Human Rights Act. BIHR looks forward to participating in this important debate.

BIHR Closing the Loophole activities

Strategic legal cases

The YL case
BIHR intervened in the House of Lords YL case together with Liberty and JUSTICE

• BIHR, Justice and Liberty's joint written submission to the court

BIHR's response to the House of Lords decision in YL (including a background to the case) (June 2007)

• BIHR, Liberty, JUSTICE, Help the Aged, Age Concern, and the Disability Rights Commission joint response to the House of Lords decision in YL (June 2007)

The Johnson v Havering case
BIHR gave expert evidence on the practical impact of narrow legal interpretations of the scope of the Human Rights Act

• BIHR witness statement (February 2006)
• BIHR response to the Court of Appeal decision in Johnson v Havering (June 2006)

Briefings, submissions and statements

• BIHR, Liberty, JUSTICE, Help the Aged and Age Concern England Parliamentary Briefing on human rights for older and disabled people in care homes (June 2008)

• BIHR statement supporting the proposed amendments to the Health and Social Care Bill to bring private and voluntary sector health and social care providers within the scope of the Human Rights Act (January 2008)

• BIHR submission to the Joint Committee on Human Rights' inquiry into the meaning of 'public authority' under the Human Rights Act (January 2007)

Articles, speeches and events

• Katie Ghose, BIHR's Director, quoted in ‘Dignified conclusions' The Guardian, 2 April 2008

• BIHR cited in ‘Older people: no way for self-funders in care homes to complain' Community Care, 2 April 2008

• Katie Ghose, BIHR's Director, quoted in ‘Mixed views on loophole vow' Caring Business 1 April 2008

• Katie Ghose, BIHR's Director, quoted in ‘Campaigners buoyed by pledge to close care home rights gap' Community Care, 28 March 2008.

• Katie Ghose, BIHR's Director, speech to the Human Rights Lawyers' Association on the meaning of 'public authority' under the Human Rights Act (January 2008)

‘Mind the Gap' written by Katie Ghose, BIHR's Director, for 'Speaker's corner' on the new Equality and Human Rights Commission website (January 2008)

• Sonya Sceats, BIHR's Policy and Research Officer quoted in ‘Bid to Give Residents Human Rights Continues Despite Bill Failure' Community Care, January 2008.

• Sonya Sceats, BIHR's Policy and Research Officer quoted in ‘Care Homes Face Human Rights Law' Third Sector, 7 February 2007

• Katie Ghose, BIHR's Director, letter ‘Elder care challenged' in VS magazine, August/September 2006

• BIHR and the Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) mini conference on the meaning of 'public authority' under the Human Rights Act, attended by members of the JCHR, a range of NGOs and statutory bodies, the Minister for Human Rights (Michael Wills) and the Minister for Social Care (Ivan Lewis). (January 2008)  

 

 

Published: October 1, 2009

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