Councils should not have to absorb £150m DoLS deficit – LGA

Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) are a “big pressure” for local councils, which have seen a tenfold increase in the number of cases received in the last year, and need to be fully funded, according to the Local Government Association (LGA). 

Cllr Izzi Seccombe, the LGA’s portfolio holder for Community Wellbeing, told PSE that despite a one-off payment from government of £25m for this financial year, there is still a funding deficit of almost £150m in 2015-16 for DoLS, “that councils should not be expected to absorb”. 

Yesterday, HSCIC revealed that between 1 April 2014 and 31 March 2015, local authorities received 137,540 DoLS applications – significantly more than the 13,700 made in 2013-14. 

Discussing the increase and funding issue, Seccombe said: “At a time when the number of DoLS assessments councils are required to perform has increased, this shortfall places increased pressure on local services that are already expecting to be faced with reductions in core funding in the coming financial period.” 

As well as the current funding gap, the  LGA noted that the resources needed to assess and authorise deprivation of liberty outside of hospitals and care homes (Community DoLS) have not yet been calculated and there is currently no way to fully assess what the cost provisioning for Community DoLS will be for councils or their partners. 

“The LGA would like to work with government to collect further information to accurately assess the true cost burdens of Community DoLS and the proposed changes to DoLS with a commitment that any financial burden be fully funded,” said Seccombe. 

“The lack of funding results in people going without the full protection of the assessment and authorisation process. This leaves councils unable to properly identify and protect vulnerable individuals within their communities.” 

In March 2014, a Supreme Court judgement in the ‘Cheshire West’ case clarified an ‘acid test’ for what constitutes a deprivation of liberty. In short, it meant every individual was entitled to their own assessment rather than a general one. 

PSE was told by Alison Fiddy, head of legal at Mind, the mental health charity, said the Supreme Court judgment provided “much-needed clarity” on a hugely complicated issue. 

“However, the unintended consequence of this is that the system is stretched to the limit. We know that the workloads of Independent Mental Capacity Advocates (IMCAs) have grown dramatically and that many are feeling the strain,” she said. 

“It is really important that there is sufficient resource in the system to ensure that it can keep pace with demand and that IMCAs can perform their roles in a thorough and safe manner.”


Ken Pollock   01/10/2015 at 12:23

Interesting typo in the first line - substituting "living" for liberty" in DoLS. Might be worth changing...

PSE   01/10/2015 at 12:38

Thank you for highlighting this. It has been corrected.

John Matthissen   14/01/2016 at 13:27

DoLS stands for Deprivation of Liberty SAFEGUARDS, confusion starts in line 1

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