Skip to main content

Advocacy Services

Volume 406: debated on Thursday 12 June 2003

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what plans he has to support the work of citizens advocacy groups, with specific reference to the delivery of the Valuing People White Paper; [118289](2) what its Department's policy is on the provision of advocacy for those who have

(a) learning disabilities and (b) mental health problems; [118290]

(3) what role his Department has given to the British Institute of Learning Disabilities with regard to the distribution of moneys for the purpose of expanding advocacy services; [118291]

(4) what assessment he has made of the demand for advocacy services for those who have learning disabilities or mental health problems. [118292]

The Government attaches great importance to the development of advocacy services as one of the means that enable the views of patients to be represented.Our policies for improving services for people with learning disabilities, their families and carers are set out in the White Paper "Valuing People: A New Strategy for Learning Disability for the 21

st Century" (Cm 5086) published in March 2001. The importance of advocacy is a theme running throughout the White Paper: effective advocacy services can make a real difference to the lives of people with learning disabilities and their families by helping them to put forward their views and play an active part in planning and designing services.

"Valuing People" announced the creation of two new funds, the Implementation Support Fund and the Learning Disability Development Fund, to provide central support for key aspects of the strategy. Money from the Implementation Support Fund is being used to support and develop self and citizen advocacy projects across the country. Two voluntary organisations, the British Institute of Learning Disabilities (BILD) and Values into Action (VIA) are running separate schemes to develop and fund citizen advocacy and self advocacy respectively on the Department of Health's behalf. Both organisations have steering groups to oversee the projects and to ensure fairness in the way the funds are allocated.

£900,000 from the Implementation Support Fund was allocated to advocacy projects in 2001–02 and £ 1 million in 2002–03; £1 million is being allocated in 2003–04. A further £300,000 was allocated in 2001–02 to administer the funding schemes and support development workers to work with and strengthen existing advocacy schemes and help set up new ones: this amount increased to £400,000 in both 2002–03 and 2003–04.

We announced in our report on learning disability, "Making Change Happen" (HC514–11), published in April 2003, that the Implementation Support Fund would continue until March 2006. The fund will support the same areas of work as at present. The learning disability task force, which has members drawn from both the self and citizen advocacy movements, will be involved in discussions about the detailed use of the Support Fund.

Mental health policies pay equal importance to the use of advocacy. The draft Mental Health Bill, published on 25 June 2002, provides for the first time that specialist mental health advocacy must be available for all patients being treated under compulsory powers and their nominated persons. This new duty ensures that patients can have the help of specialist advocacy when it is most needed. There are also proposals in the draft Bill for safeguards, including access to advocacy, for some adult patients who have a long-term incapacity to consent and who are in a hospital or nursing home receiving treatment for a serious mental disorder.