13 March 2018
THE RIGHT TO ADVOCACY - A REVIEW OF ADVOCACY PLANNING ACROSS
A new report from the Mental Welfare Commission shows that the
planning and provision of advocacy services across Scotland is
variable and lacks clarity.
There were significant gaps in service provision for children
and young people, and services for adults were often prioritised
for those who were receiving compulsory care or treatment, which
could risk other people losing out.
The report follows a 2015 update to the Mental Health Act, which
created new duties for local authorities and health boards to tell
the Commission how they have ensured access to advocacy services up
to now, and how they plan to do so in the future.
The results show that planning of advocacy services is lacking
in many areas, with only five health boards providing current
plans. Strategies for monitoring and reviewing services are also
There is a lack of clarity on which organisation (health board
or the new health and social care partnership) is responsible for
co-ordinating the preparation of strategic advocacy plans, and on
how advocacy providers and people using advocacy services will be
involved in planning.
There is a lack of clarity on how services are accessible to all
children and young people under 18 with mental ill health and/or
Kate Fearnley, Executive Director (Engagement and
Participation), at the Mental Welfare Commission, said,
"Ensuring that people have access to independent advocacy is
really important. An advocate can make sure a person with mental
illness, learning disability or dementia has their voice heard, and
has their views and wishes considered, when decisions are made
about their lives.
"This is our first report on the planning of advocacy services
across Scotland since new legislation came into force. We hope that
by publishing the data and sharing our results and recommendations,
we will see more consistency in the services people can expect, no
matter where they live in the country."
Key findings include:
- The majority of services were prioritising referrals for
people subject to compulsory measures under legislation. The
Commission is clear that limiting advocacy in this way was never
the intention of the policy when it was introduced in 2003, and we
expect everyone who has the right to access an advocate, gets that
- Only three areas told us their advocacy budget had increased
in the last two years, and three quarters said budgets had remained
static in this period. If this continues, there is likely to be an
actual reduction in the service provided.
- In relation to children and young people, a number of the
services highlighted to us were not independent advocacy. Some were
children's rights officers employed by local authorities. Almost
all of the services had very restricted eligibility criteria. The
information we gathered suggests that there are significant gaps in
service provision for children and young people.
A full copy of the report is available here.
The full responses can be found in appendix 1 and appendix
The Mental Welfare Commission
0131 313 8786