LGA briefing - The Mental Capacity (Amendment) Bill Second Reading, House of Lords - 16 July 2018

We have been calling for an overhaul of the current Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) process to ensure there is adequate protection for human rights. The decision to focus on how we best protect people’s liberty is positive and we support it.

Key messages

  • We support the aim of the Mental Capacity (Amendment) Bill which seeks to create a system for the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) which is simpler and less bureaucratic. The new framework being brought forward to the Bill should be proportionate and aligned to current adult social care practice to avoid the new scheme being as complex as the present one.
  • We look forward to working with government on the development and implementation of a reformed, fully-funded scheme so that councils can ensure that those people who lack mental capacity are at the centre of decisions made about their care.
  • Councils have been working hard to protect the rights of the most vulnerable people since the well-documented increase in responsibilities following the 2014 Supreme Court Judgement. 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.
  • The well-documented increase in activity has caused significant cost pressures on council budgets at a time when adult social care faces a funding gap of £3.5 billion by 2025. Any failure to provide sustainable funding for adult social care will have a damaging impact on the crucial council services on which people rely.
  • The transition to the new framework and its future framework implementation should receive additional resources to reflect that there may be additional costs associated with the change, such as those associated with the ongoing need to train and equip the social care and health workforce with the skills they will need. Without this, some of the most vulnerable people in our communities could continue to face long waiting times for assessments or be left without legal protection.
  • It is important that the Government recognises that the new provision relating to care homes will create additional responsibilities, and therefore financial pressures, for the care home provider market. This is at a time when that sector is already facing significant challenges, both in terms of resources and in relation to their workforce recruitment and retention.
  • We support the Law Commission’s proposal to extend the safeguards to 16-17 year old given the importance of having 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.

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The Mental Capacity (Amendment) Bill Second Reading, House of Lords - 16 July 2018