To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of
(1) best practice by local authorities for the provision of independent advocacy services for people with learning disabilities;
(2) independent advocacy services funded by local authorities in ensuring equal access to services by people with learning disabilities.
The Department of Health and the Department for Communities and Local Government make resources available to local authorities (LAs) for them to decide how they best support people with learning disabilities. Most LAs commission independent advocacy for people with learning disabilities as part of the support and services they offer them.
The Department has however funded the development of a ‘quality mark’ scheme, whereby an advocacy umbrella organisation, “Action for Advocacy”, will carry out an assessment of the quality of advocacy offered by advocacy organisations and will award a quality mark where an organisation meets certain standards. This is an innovative scheme, developed by the sector for the sector, with the aim of recognising quality where it exists, and assisting all advocacy organisations to identify quality as an important part of their work. The quality mark is a form of assessment and the organisations which have achieved this are listed on the website of “Action for Advocacy”.
LAs are required under equality legislation to ensure that a variety of measures are available to enable equal access to services. Advocacy plays an important part in this.