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Legal Literacy in Adult Social Care

Author: Belinda Schwehr

Belinda Schwehr is a highly respected expert in adult social care law. In this provocative paper she outlines some of the failings in legal literacy that she commonly finds in her work across England. Many of these problems seem to be getting worse with austerity, others reflect a long-standing failure to understand the role that law should play in the delivery of public services.

In outline Schwehr identifies seven trends:

  1. Coarsening culture - risky or unlawful decision-making driven by management
  2. Muddled co-production - sloppy thinking about what is and is not possible
  3. Consultancy confusion - the reliance on non-expert experts
  4. Domination and dominion - using purchasing power to get your way
  5. Decision-making incompetence - replacing judgement with formulae
  6. Casualties of austerity - justifying illegality by financial pressure 
  7. Personalisation spin - the misuse of ideology to avoid tackling real issues

Schwehr goes on to argue for the benefits of taking law seriously and of increasing the quality of legal training to ensure professionals and those they serve are given the right skills and knowledge to do their jobs.


The publisher is the Centre for Welfare Reform.

Legal Literacy in Adult Social Care © Belinda Schwehr 2016.

All Rights Reserved. No part of this paper may be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher except for the quotation of brief passages in reviews.

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