The Legal Rights of Carers and the Nearest Relative

From 6th April 2016 the legal rights of unpaid carers were consolidated and extended through the introduction of a new piece of legislation that applies to carers in Wales:

The Social Services and Well-being Act (Wales) 2014

This replaces all 11 repeals and replaces social care legislation that previously enshrined the rights and entitlements of carers in Wales.  This is the first time Wales has social care legislation that is completely separate from the rest of the UK.

How does the Act define a carer?

Previous legislation described a carer as someone who provided “a substantial amount of care on a regular basis”, defined this as a minimum of 35 hours per week.

Under the new Act a carer is defined as; ‘a person who provides or intends to provide care for an adult or disabled child’.  Carers no longer have to prove that they are providing or intend to provide a substantial amount of care on a regular basis.

The Act emphasises making provision to improve the well-being of carers who need support  and defines the meaning of ‘well-being’ according to the following categories:-

  • Physical and mental health and emotional well-being
  • Protection from abuse and neglect
  • Education, training and recreation
  • Domestic, family and personal relationships
  • Contribution made to society
  • Securing rights and entitlements
  • Social and economic well-being
  • Suitability of living accommodation
  • Control over day to day life
  • Participation in work.

Carers Assessments

Provision for carers assessments combines that of the three previous Carers Acts.  If it appears to a local authority that has support needs then a duty to assess is triggered.  This is irrespective of the degree of support or financial resources or the carer or cared for.  A local authority must:-

  • Offer an assessment where it appears to that authority that the carer may have support needs
  • Assess whether the carer has needs for support (or is likely to do so in the future) and if they do, what those needs are likely to be
  • The requirement for ‘regular & substantial’ care is removed as is the need for the carer to ‘request’ an assessment. Assessments must include:-
  • Whether the carer is able / willing to continue caring
  • The outcomes the carer wishes in day-to-day life
  • Whether the carer works and / or wishes to participate in education, training or recreation
  • There is a duty for Local Authorities to meet need identified through assessment (where a carer is deemed eligible).
  • The assessment must be proportionate to needs and circumstance, but minimally should record core data and take into account the five elements to determine eligibility. Complete information is only required when a carer’s needs are deemed eligible resulting in a care and support plan, or support plan for a carer being produced.

A guide to getting a carers assessment in Wales can be found at:


Eligibility criteria

The act includes detailed eligibility criteria to identify who will have an enforceable right to support and the point at which the local authority has a legal duty to provide/arrange support/care provision.

Duty to provide care & support for individuals in need

When the local authority decides that a carer meets the eligibility criteria they then have a duty to:-

  • Determine what may be done to meet the carer’s needs
  • Decide whether it will charge and how much the cost will be.

The local authority must also take into account whether a carer may benefit from preventative services or information, advice and assistance or other services that may be available in the local community.

Read more about Local Authority responsibilities


An easy read version is available from:

The full Act is available from:

Information for Third Sector and social services staff specific to mental health carers is available from:


Nearest Relative rights under the Mental Health Act