The National Care Service (Scotland) Bill is currently making its way through the Scottish Parliament. The Bill allows Scottish Ministers to transfer social care responsibility from local authorities to a new, national service. This is a huge change to social care provision in Scotland and an opportunity to change people’s lives by upholding and realising their rights, in particular to independent living.
The Bill itself is a framework piece of legislation, meaning much of the detail will be left to secondary legislation (i.e. regulations). The aim behind this is that the National Care Service will be co-designed with people that use it. The Scottish Government currently have opportunities to get involved in the co-design process, you can find out more information on their website.
Independent advocacy is vital to ensure that people using social care are able to have their views heard when decisions about their care are made. SIAA therefore welcome the explicit inclusion of independent advocacy in section 13 of the National Care Service Bill. Section 13 states:
The Scottish Ministers may by regulations make provision about the provision of independent advocacy services in connection with the services that the National Care Service provides.
The Bill is a vital opportunity to build the foundation of a coherent, consolidated and consistent approach to providing quality independent advocacy that is accessible to everyone that would use the National Care Service. With some key amendments to the Bill, independent advocacy could help to uphold the Principles of the National Care Service Bill, enable the right to participation, and support an effective complaints process and routes to remedy for those using social care.
On Monday 5 December, SIAA gave evidence to the Health, Social Care and Sport Committee, who are scrutinising the National Care Service Bill. SIAA asked MSPs on the Committee to consider several aspects of independent advocacy within the context of the Bill; including the SIAA definition of independent advocacy, including a right of access to independent advocacy and a duty to provide. SIAA also provided evidence on how collective advocacy can be involved in co-design and the difference between independent advocacy and advice as well as funding models of independent advocacy. You can view the evidence session below.
SIAA provided further written evidence to the Committee following the evidence session on 5 December – SIAA Response to Committee on NCS Bill dec 2022.