Homepage Latest news The right to advocacy - a review of advocacy planning across Scotland

The right to advocacy - a review of advocacy planning across Scotland

Publication date: 6 Apr, 2023

A new report from the Mental Welfare Commission shows that the planning and provision of advocacy services across Scotland is progressing, but also finds issues with planning, with budgets and staffing – it highlights a difficulty in recruiting and retaining advocacy staff in the third sector.

This report is the first since 2018. An update to the Mental Health Act in 2015 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 review examines advocacy services for adults, children and young people across Scotland, and includes an appendix with details of every response received. Key findings include:

  • The results show the majority of advocacy services are planned and commissioned at health and social care partnership (HSCP) level or jointly with health boards and local authorities.
  • The number of areas with advocacy strategic plans in place has doubled since the Commission’s previous review in 2018; but not all of these plans were said to be up to date. More than a third of areas still do not have strategic plans, although most of them are in the process of developing one.
  • In 2018, the Commission made a recommendation that all advocacy strategic plans should be equality impact assessed. Most areas have not done this when developing their strategic advocacy plans.
  • Half of the areas said their advocacy budget had not changed in the last two years, and those who had received an uplift (for cost of living or wage increases) reported there has been no change to their services.
  • Compared to 2018, more authorities said their plans referenced the provision of independent advocacy services for children and young people, but despite this increase, it amounts to less than half of respondents.

Julie Paterson, chief executive at the Mental Welfare Commission, said,

"As the Scottish Government has reiterated, independent advocacy is important because it ensures that everyone matters, and everyone is heard. We undertake this extensive report to be transparent, and to show how the system works across Scotland.

"This is our second report on the planning of advocacy services across Scotland since the 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."