The Right to Advocacy – a review of advocacy planning across Scotland

Mental Welfare Commission Reports on Advocacy provision

The Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003 imposed a duty on Local Authorities and Health Boards to collaborate to ensure the availability of independent advocacy services in their area. The Act gave the right to access independent advocacy support for everyone with a:

  • mental illness
  • learning disability
  • dementia
  • and other related conditions

The Mental Health (Scotland) Act 2015 builds on the right in the 2003 Act to independent advocacy support, by requiring health boards and Local Authorities to tell the Mental Welfare Commission:

  • how they have ensured access to services up to now and
  • how they plan to do so in the future

This report is based on information the Commission collected from Health and Social Care Partnerships (HSCPs), health boards and Local Authorities in 2022. They asked about:

  • the provision of advocacy services available in each area
  • planning for future provision and
  • what was being done to improve access to advocacy services

They also asked Local Authorities to tell them if their integrated children’s services plans covered the provision of independent advocacy services for children and young people with mental illness, learning disability or related conditions. They received responses from all areas covering 31 HSCPs and one from the State Hospital.

The Findings show

  • The majority of advocacy services are planned and commissioned at 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.


You can see a copy of the report here: The Right to Advocacy (MWC)

Self Directed Support Scotland

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