SIAA Response to the Learning Disabilities, Autism and Neurodivergence (LDAN) Bill Consultation

SIAA’s have submitted their reponse to the Scottish Government’s Learning Disablities, Autism and Neurodivergence (LDAN) Bill Consultation, you can read our full response on SIAA’s information hub. SIAA very much welcomes the inclusion of independent advocacy as an overarching theme of the consultation. However, we are confident that more can be done to strengthen the proposals around independent advocacy within the context of the LDAN Bill, with this in mind we have several key asks of Scottish Government.

1. The Bill should guarantee access to independent advocacy for all people with a learning disability and neurodivergent people, ensuring that this provision is explicitly included in the LDAN Bill.
2. As the Bill is drafted and implementation work on the Bill begins, part of this must be a clear roadmap to increasing access to independent advocacy, this roadmap must;

  • Ensure that those with current rights to independent advocacy in Scots law can access it,
  • Utilize different models of independent advocacy including collective advocacy to support groups to address systemic human rights issues, and citizen advocacy to increase inclusion for people that have been excluded from their community,
  • Provide individual independent advocacy and citizen advocacy first to those who experience the greatest barriers to having their rights realised,
  • Progressive realisation of rights should be supported by sustainably increasing access to independent advocacy so that eventually it can be accessed by anyone with a human rights issue. This should be done in consultation with existing grassroots and local independent advocacy organisations and groups.

3. ‘Independent advocacy’ must have a clear definition in the Bill that aligns with the Independent Advocacy Principles, Standards and Code of Best Practice.

Without clarity about the definition of independent advocacy and the resources available to provide independent advocacy to neurodivergent people and people with learning disabilities to have their voice heard, the Bill will not be effective. Independent advocacy is ready made to bring human rights to life. When sustainably resourced, independent advocacy expands understanding of human rights, enables accountability mechanisms and embeds participation creating the context for services to uphold rights and justice to be realised.

In our response we caution the Scottish Government on the proposal to place a duty on all public bodies to ensure independent advocacy information and signposting is provided without also looking at resourcing of independent advocacy organisations. SIAA’s report on the Sustainability of Independent Advocacy in Scotland identified that 71% of respondents (independent advocacy
organisations) identified groups with an unmet need for independent advocacy. Increasing knowledge about independent advocacy through a duty on public services to provide information without also increasing resources will likely result in more stress on organisations that are already struggling to meet demand due to underfunding.

With the issue of organisational sustainability in mind, SIAA would like to highlight SCVO’s work on Fair Funding and call on the Scottish Government to commit to Fair Funding across the voluntary sector and consider the Fair Funding commitment in relation to independent advocacy before increasing signposting to independent advocacy organisations. Fair Funding means long-term, flexible, sustainable, and accessible approach to funding and procurement calling for consistent approaches and processes, unrestricted funding, transparency, and investment in the sector that keeps pace with inflation and supports Fair Work and at least the Living Wage.

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