Learning Disabilities, Autism and Neurodivergence (LDAN) Bill consultation launched

The Scottish Government has published a public consultation for the Learning Disabilities, Autism and Neurodivergence (LDAN) Bill. The consultation deadline is 21 April 2024.

SIAA has previously taken part in a Practitioner Panel that contributed to the scoping work for this Bill. We are pleased to see that independent advocacy has been identified as one of five overarching themes of the consultation paper, recognising independent advocacy as relevant across many areas of life and therefore central to the proposals for the Bill.

What does the consultation paper say about independent advocacy?

The consultation paper outlines how the rights and duties to independent advocacy in the 2003 Mental Health Act are relevant to the lives of people with learning disabilities and autistic people. The paper also says that “People have told us that they want more rights to accessible independent advocacy that is clearly signposted and available across the country.”

The detailed consultation paper has lots of information about the independent advocacy proposals which you can read from pages 48 to 53. SIAA note that the Bill is not proposing a broad right to independent advocacy for neurodivergent people and people with learning disabilities. However, the goal is to work with SIAA and others to identify how to strengthen rights and access to independent advocacy as well as look at a consistent definition of independent advocacy.

Additional proposals look at specific powers and provisions that could be included around independent advocacy, as well as proposals aimed at improving understanding of independent advocacy more broadly.

SIAA’s response to the consultation

SIAA will be providing a detailed response to the consultation for the 21 April 2024 deadline. As usual, we will be focusing in on the independent advocacy aspects of the consultation and gathering members’ views on this through a roundtable and other conversations over the coming weeks.

We know that members frequently support neurodivergent people and people with learning disabilities to have their views heard, and therefore have a lot of expertise and experience to share. We would be delighted if members could join us for the roundtable. Please look out for more information about this in the next few weeks. If you have lots of experience supporting people with learning disabilities and neurodivergent people to have their voices heard and would like to have a more in depth conversation, please get in touch with Rhona via email rhona.willder@siaa.org.uk

SIAA will be attending events run by the Scottish Government and civil society organisations about the consultation to gather views of people with lived experience and share our expertise on independent advocacy.

Alongside upcoming Bills for the National Care Service and Human Rights incorporation, this bill provides an important opportunity to promote and advocate for independent advocacy. We are keen to work with members and other stakeholders across all these pieces of legislation to make the case for widening access to quality independent advocacy. Our strategic goals also focus on the importance of safeguarding locally based and sustainable organisations providing different models of independent advocacy to ensure people have their voices heard. We therefore ensure this is a key thread of our policy work.

Making sure people have their voice heard

We are expecting the Scottish Government to publish information about consultation events in the near future. We will update members when the event information is available. Some members, advocacy partners or collective advocacy groups may be interested in attending and sharing views on proposals in the consultation paper. Members might also be interested in submitting their own response to the consultation – more information about how to respond is available on the Citizen Space website.

The consultation can be found online in a variety of formats including Easy Read, audio, British Sign Language, child-friendly version with an accompanying adult’s guide, and a summary version. Paper copies can also be requested from the Scottish Government. The consultation deadline is 21 April 2024.

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