HC Deb 30 March 2001 vol 365 cc802-3W
Ms Julie Morgan

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to review the statutory right to advocacy for looked-after children. [155467]

Mr. Hutton [holding answer 26 March 2001]

Following the recent consultation exercise on social services complaints procedures, we are considering whether it is possible to introduce a statutory right of access to an advocate under the Children Act procedures.

Listening to the voices of looked-after children and young people is an integral part of the Quality Protects programme. The programme encourages the growth of high quality independent advocacy services in every council and allocates special grant funding for this purpose. There are already many good examples of advocacy in social services and we recognise how vital it is to listen to children and young people.

The local authority circular (LAC(2000)22), issued on 13 November 2000 continues to place listening to children as a priority area for 2001–02 and requires local councils to involve young people collectively and to enhance their individual voices through, for example, the development of independent advocacy services. In addition, local councils are encouraged to speed up the complaints procedures, so that children's concerns can be dealt with promptly and sympathetically.

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