One such is the Mental Capacity (Amendment) Bill, which is currently in Committee in the Lords, and which the LGA has provided briefings for.
The Bill seeks to reform the current deprivation of liberty safeguards (DoLS) system, which would enable councils to work with their partners locally to ensure people who lack mental capacity are placed at the centre of decisions made about their care. The LGA has long called for these changes and welcomed the introduction of the Bill.
Councils have been working hard to protect the rights of the most vulnerable people since the well-documented increase in responsibilities following a 2014 Supreme Court judgment. Despite this, local government has continued to prioritise those most in need. Even with an 11 per cent increase in applications from 2015/16 to 2016/17, the number of DoLS applications completed in 2016/17 increased by 45 per cent.
We look forward to working with government on the development and implementation of a reformed, fully funded scheme that ensures there is adequate protection for human rights, including any guidance to support the Act.
“It is vital there is a consistent approach across social care
While the LGA is supportive of the Bill, we will want to see a number of changes to ensure that councils are not unduly burdened by the new provisions.
We support an amendment tabled by Baroness Thornton relating to provisions to extend the safeguards to 16 and 17-year-olds. It is vital there is a consistent approach across social care that supports vulnerable people of all ages. This Bill is an opportunity to introduce this recommendation, and would align with the Mental Capacity Act 2005.
Councils are currently experiencing significant pressures across adult social care budgets, and the system is widely perceived as being in a state of crisis. Since 2010, councils have had to deal with a £6 billion funding gap in adult social care services, and we estimate the service faces a funding gap of £3.56 billion by 2025.
Therefore, it is important that sustainable funding for adult social care for transition to, and implementation of, the Bill is provided to councils. Failure to do so could have a damaging impact on the crucial services on which people rely.
We support an amendment which requires the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care to report on the impact of the Act on those it applies to, including individuals, local authorities and care home providers.
The amendment commits the Government to laying a report in Parliament on the operation of deprivation of liberty safeguards no later than two years after the Bill receives Royal Assent, and is important as it will help with consideration of the impact of cost pressures on council budgets.
We will be working with government and Parliament on the Bill to influence its final shape, and to help create a simpler and less bureaucratic deprivation of liberty safeguards system.