Joint Parliamentary Committee's report on Care and Support Bill
My response to the Bill on behalf of seAp was to recommend that the provision and adequate funding of independent advocacy services must become included in the new legislation to ensure that the needs and goals of all people are taken into account within a new social care system.
Despite strong representation from many voluntary sector organisations, the government’s response was that there was no need to make it explicit that advocacy should be provided as well as information and advice services.
The next stage of the draft Bill’s journey to the statute books was to be reviewed and scrutinised by a joint Parliamentary committee who have just released their report and recommendations.
The Committee agreed with advocacy organisations, Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE), Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) and the Kings Fund about the important role that advocacy plays in helping people say what they want, secure their rights, represent their interests and obtain services they need. They also supported the view that local authorities should be required to include advocacy alongside information and advice. Andrea Sutcliffe, the Chief Executive of the SCIE, said: “… what we do not actually highlight in the Bill or make happen is the provision of what you might call either brokerage or advocacy to, as you suggest, fight the corner for an individual who might not be able to do that for themselves.”
The Law Commission pointed out that “There is already a general right to advocacy in adult social care legislation, in the unimplemented provision of the Disabled Persons (Services, Consultation and Representation) Act 1986.” They recommended that this right should be recreated in the new statute.
When questioned, the government indicated that they intended that advocacy would be provided at two main stages: the point of assessment and care and support planning, to help the person articulate the outcomes they were trying to achieve, and the point of planning for their care and support needs, to help them to be clear about how they wanted to meet those needs and believed that this was covered by the universal requirement for information and advice.
The committee concluded that Clause 2 which sets out the requirement to provide information and advice should be amended to make clear that independent advocacy is to be available before the assessment process has begun, and not only as one of the ways of meeting needs.
I hope that the government will accept the recommendations and representations from such a wide range of organisations and clarify the right to advocacy in the Bill so that those who require the support and those who have the responsibility to fund it are clear about responsibilities and entitlements.
Read the Joint Committee’s Report here Report Draft Care and Support Bill