It seems that hardly a week goes by without ADASS indicating another additional pressure on ‘already squeezed budgets’. One of the latest burdens stems from the Supreme Court judgement regarding Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) which could mean thousands more people will need to be assessed.

ADASS and the LGA have written the obligatory letter to the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, to ask for government funding and the overwhelming talk is calling for ‘significant measures’ to inject new money into local social care economies – and of course, who could disagree with that?

What I do find rather disconcerting though, is that such an important matter of protection for people’s human rights has got dragged into the social care funding row. How has that happened? ADASS stresses social care budgets have seen reductions of £3.5 billion over the last four years and clearly this is a real concern, but surely the necessity of ensuring that people are assessed under DoLs needs to be made as a separate argument? We can’t simply dismiss the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards as another budget pressure – they are the law! Applying the safeguards should not be seen as something separate from providing core services – authorisation to deprive people of their liberty is part of that person’s care plan, not a substitute for it. It is not a question of choice, funding has be found. Full stop.

The Care Act 2014 and the associated regulations and guidance will give another opportunity for local authorities to raise concerns about costs. I hope that they will want to grasp their full duties to facilitate the well-being principle – so firmly enshrined in clause 1 – even with current budgets constraints, it shouldn’t become inevitable that support is pared down to the minimum that can be got away with.

We’re one of the newest supporters of the Learning Disability Alliance because we know that we need to all work together better to fight for the voice of people with learning disabilities and make sure it is as loud and as powerful as possible – but we also know that that we must all do that together, involving families, professionals and workers to make sure that people’s basic human and legal rights are not ignored.

I want ADASS and the LGA to be standing up and fighting for a better funding settlement for social care as part of this agenda, but I don’t want them to be holding the human rights of very vulnerable people to ransom – a perverse outcome if there ever was one! The reality for local authorities is that if there is no additional funding they will have to find the money from somewhere else and they will have to reconsider their priorities. It has always been a problem that adult social care budgets were not ring-fenced, but you can’t renege on your statutory obligations. Yes, demand additional funding is found for the DoLs assessments, but real care must be taken so that the arguments aren’t suggesting that the Supreme Court ruling was inappropriate. It wasn’t. I think it revealed how far we still have to go as a society to make sure the human rights of people who lack capacity are respected and it seems to me that some local authorities just didn’t get it.