HL Deb 10 February 2004 vol 656 cc148-9WA
Lord Ashley of Stoke

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will provide greater financial support for advocacy provision for disabled people, ensuring that all such people have access to suitable independent advocacy; and [HL935]

Whether they will allocate responsibility for advocacy provision for disabled people to a single department or body to ensure co-ordination of their effort. [HL937]

Lord Warner

Access to locally based advocacy schemes is important for disabled people who may, for whatever reason, have difficulty in making their views known. Local authorities have been encouraged to use and support local advocacy schemes, or to set up their own to meet particular need. The Department of Health supports a number of voluntary bodies in projects which encourage self-advocacy, as well as others which provide advocates or companions on a voluntary basis for those who may be in particular need.

The importance of advocacy for people with learning disabilities is a theme running throughout the White Paper Valuing PeopleA new Strategy for Learning Disability for the 21st Century, published in March 2001, which sets out our proposals for improving services for people with learning disabilities, their families and carers.

Valuing People announced the creation of two new funds, the Implementation Support Fund and the Learning Disability Development Fund, to support key aspects of its proposals. Two organisations, Values Into Action and the British Institute of Learning Disabilities, are distributing money from the Implementation Support Fund to support the development and expansion of self and citizen advocacy respectively. By the end of the third year of the funding programme in March 2004, £3 million will have been distributed to advocacy organisations.

We are considering whether it would be appropriate to allocate responsibility for advocacy provision for disabled people to a single department or body.