Carers (Roles and Responsibilities) Act 1995

"The underlying purpose of the Carers (R&S) Act is to ensure that proper recognition is given to the role of carers. The Act describes local authorities' duties in relation to the carer who is defined as 'someone who provides (or intends to provide) a substantial amount of care on a regular basis for a disabled, ill or elderly person.’ Included in this definition are PARENTS who provide or intend to provide a substantial amount of care on a regular basis for disabled children, i.e. levels of care regular beyond that which would usually be expected for a child of that age. It is probable that the Government will ask Social Services Departments to determine locally how they will interpret the terms "substantial" and "regular".

"The Act does NOT place a duty on Social Service Departments to assess every carer on the 1st April 1996 nor does it place a duty on them to provide services to the carer. Moreover, the duty to assess arises only when an assessment or reassessment of the needs of the person being cared for is being carried out and only then if the carer requests an assessment or their own needs. However, in deciding what services should be directed towards the disabled person, the Act recognises that due consideration should be given to ensuring that carers are enabled to choose the level of care and support they wish to give to the disabled person. The local authority may also wish to consider the impact of a child's disability on his/her siblings. Obviously, the regulations and guidelines of the 1989 Children Act may colour any assessment requested by a Parent under the Carers' Act. Parents will be able to challenge decisions not to assess their needs through the Social Services complaints system."

Disability Discrimination Act

This brings in new laws and measures aimed at ending the discrimination which many disabled people face. The Act gives disabled people new rights in the areas of employment, getting goods and services, and buying or renting land or property. The Act ensures recognition of the needs of disabled people wishing to study and the provision of better information for parents, pupils and students. Schools will have to explain their arrangements for the admission of disabled pupils, how they will help these pupils gain access and what they will do to ensure they are treated fairly. Further and higher education institutions funded by the Further and Higher Education Funding Councils will have to publish disability statements containing information about facilities for disabled people. Local Education Authorities will have to provide information on their further education facilities for disabled people. The Government has begun a lengthy consultation process which will determine when different parts of the Act are implemented Disabled people, and many organisations which represent them, are concerned that this piece of legislation falls far short of the full civil rights bill with proper powers of enforcement which they had been campaigning for. Although the National Disability Council has now been set up, this is merely a body to advise Government on disability issues, not a Commission with legal powers such as those set up under other anti-discrimination legislation (i.e. Equal Opportunities and Race Relations).