To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to ensure that autistic people and people with learning disabilities living in residential care, supported living and hospital settings are able to access advocacy support during the covid-19 outbreak.
The application of the Mental Capacity Act 2005 and Mental Health Act 1983 remains the same during the pandemic and we have made it clear in our guidance that face-to-face visits by professionals and advocates remain an important part of the legal framework. Professionals and advocates should work closely with hospitals and care homes to decide if visiting in person is appropriate, and how to do this safely.
The duty to provide advocacy services remains in place under the Care Act 2014. We are taking steps to strengthen advocacy and sharpen our oversight of provision, working with principle social workers to ensure the Care Act, the Ethical Framework and its key principles remain at the front of practice. Local authorities are responsible for funding advocacy services. We have provided access to £4.6 billion to local authorities through un-ringfenced grants so they can respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.