Councils take government to court over funding for DoLS assessments
A legal challenge has been launched by four councils to secure additional funding for Deprivation of Liberty Safeguard (DoLS) assessments.
The judicial review challenge from Liverpool, Shropshire, Richmond upon Thames and Nottinghamshire councils relates to the spiralling costs of assessments since the 2014 Cheshire West ruling in the Supreme Court, which expanded the group of eligible adults.
A Law Commission review said that £400m is needed to meet the new costs of assessments, but the total funding is currently just £35m. The judicial review argues that the cost should be treated as ‘a new burden’ and fully funded by the government.
Cllr Paul Brant, cabinet member for adult social care and health at Liverpool City Council, said: “Ensuring that the care provided is safe, unrestrictive and provided with dignity is absolutely critical to the health and wellbeing of people with a complex range of needs, their families and carers.
“Councils need to have the capacity, time and money to ensure the rights and needs of people are protected and this additional financial burden has to be seen in the context of a 58% cut in Liverpool’s budget since 2010.
“This action is very much as last resort which we have been forced to take because government has failed to heed our pleas for additional resources.”
Lee Chapman, Shropshire Council’s cabinet member for adults, said the local authority had seen the number of DoLS applications increase from 160 to 4,000 a year since 2014 and councils now had “no alternative” but legal action.
Social care funding is currently under unprecedented financial pressure, with councils warning that they are ‘at breaking point’.
The claim for judicial review has been issued by the High Court and served on health secretary Jeremy Hunt and communities and local government secretary Greg Clark.
The safeguards apply to residents of hospitals and residential care homes who lack mental capacity, and are intended to ensure decisions about their care are made in their best interests and do not inappropriately restrict their freedom. They must be renewed every year.
Sam Cox, knowledge officer for legal and welfare rights at the Alzheimer’s Society, called for a replacement for DoLS in PSE last year.
PSE contacted the Department of Health and the DCLG for a statement but received no reply at the time of publication.
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