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Changing English Local Authority Duties by the Adoption of Easements in the COVID-19 Pandemic; Findings from an Interview-Based Study

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
JournalBritish Journal of Social Work
Published7 Sep 2022

King's Authors


This article reports findings from a study on the effect of the adjustments or ‘easements’ that were made to the 2014 Care Act when measures to manage the impact of COVID-19 were introduced in England in 2020. Only eight local authorities (LAs) implemented the changes permitted. The experiences of five are explored in this article. Data were collected in 2021 through interviews with Directors of Adult Social Services and other senior managers in these LAs and analysed using a thematic approach. Participants referred to the challenges under which they were working pre-pandemic, including resource pressures and problems recruiting and retaining staff. Despite the conditions attached to adopting easements these LAs had done so because of the uncertainties they were facing. All ceased to use them within a short time because they could manage without them. They had been shocked by the concerted opposition to easements and the time necessitated in responding to this. They contrasted their experiences with the apparent ease with which NHS colleagues had been able to change their practices. The experiences of these LAs may contribute to planning for the continuity of social care in any future emergency.

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