The cost of carrying out more Deprivation of Liberty Safeguard (Dols) assessments will contribute to a £10bn increase in costs for councils by 2020, the Local Government Association has revealed.
The total amount includes an additional £172m per year spent on extra Dols assessments, which have been increasing dramatically since a landmark Supreme Court judgment last year, commonly known as the Cheshire West case.
The judgment lowered the threshold of what constitutes a deprivation of liberty in care; the knock-on effect has been to significantly increase the number of people needing an assessment.
Impact of cuts on care homes
As well as the yearly rising cost of Dols assessments, the LGA estimates councils will have to spend £834m a year by 2019/20 on implementing the new national living wage for council staff and care workers over the age of 25.
It also warns of the likely impact of budget cuts on the care home sector. Most care homes are now having to over-charge self-funders to make up the reduced income from councils. An LGA spokesperson said this was both unsustainable and unfair. Care home providers would be forced to close if self-funders decided to look at other alternatives and council placed residents would be put at risk.
Among the 37 members of England’s County Council’s Network alone, making up this gap to keep the care home market sustainable would cost £630m by 2020. The costs could double if spending on care homes across the whole of England is also taken into account.
High price of maintaining ‘business as usual’
As part of its submission to the November Spending Review, the LGA has estimated that the cost of implementing government policies over the next five years will cost councils £6.3bn, while they will have to spend an extra £3.6bn to maintain “business as usual” for local services.
An increasing demand for children’s services and changes to support for failed asylum seekers and unaccompanied child asylum seekers are other areas where the LGA expects additional costs, but these are too difficult to quantify and provide an exact cost, it said.
LGA chair, Gary Porter, said the November Spending Review will be “critical” for the future of public services over the next 10 years.
“Leaving councils to pick up the bill for new national policies while being handed further spending reductions cannot be an option,” Porter said.
“If our public services are to survive the next five years, councils need fairer funding and the freedom to pay for them.
“Only radical reform of the way public money is spent and widespread devolution of transport, housing, skills and health and social care across England in the spending review can protect the services which bind our communities together and protect our most vulnerable,” Porter said.