The Human Rights Act (HRA) is a vital safety net for us all, protecting the fundamental freedoms of everyone in society. It is particularly important for people in vulnerable situations, including people receiving health and social care. BIHR’s practice-based work, including our projects, training and resources, focus on helping staff to deliver rights-respecting services, and empowering service users to challenge poor treatment.

When the Human Rights Act was passing through Parliament, it was intended that a wide range of bodies performing public functions should have legal obligations under the law to respect and protect human rights. This included recognising that public services are increasingly delivered by private and contracted-out providers. However, in a series of cases our courts had adopted a more restrictive interpretation of who has duties under the Human Rights Act. This created confusion about who has obligations under the law. Confusion which was potentially depriving numerous people of the direct protection of the Human Rights Act. This included people placed by local authorities in long term care at private care homes or living in accommodation rented from registered social landlords.

Our policy work focuses on making sure those whose rights were intended to be protected by the Human Rights Act receive this protection

BIHR and other organisations (such as Age UK and Mencap) campaigned on this issue for a number of years to make sure Human Rights Act protections cover people using care services. BIHR very much welcomed the clarification brought about through the Care Act 2014 which confirmed that any body delivering care which has been arranged or paid for (in any part) by the local authority, has a duty under the Human Rights Act to respect and protect the rights of the person receiving care.

Read more about our work on this