Advocacy services

1. How does the Local Authority define statutory advocacy?

Devon County Council (DCC) defines statutory adult social care advocacy as advocacy which is provided under the Care Act, the Mental Capacity Act and the Mental Health Act

Children and Young People should have access to advocacy if they are:
• * in receipt of health services and wish to make a complaint (Health and Social Care Act 2012);
• * in receipt of social care services (including child protection) and wish to make a representation (including a complaint and those subject to child protection processes (The Adoption and Children Act 2002 / The Advocacy Services and Representations Procedure (Children) (Amendment) Regulations 2004);
• * in care, or leaving care up to age 25 (The Advocacy Services and Representations Procedure (Children) (Amendment) Regulations 2004); In particular when their care and progress is being reviewed, if they go missing (Children Act 2004/DfE statutory guidance), if they are in a Children’s Home (The Children’s Home (England) Regulations 2015);
• * If they are in custody and require access to an independent person (secure training centre rules 1998);
• * children and young people who may continue to need care and support in adulthood and to young carers who may need support in adulthood if they are subject to a (transition) needs assessment and do not have anyone else independent and appropriate to assist them (Care Act 2014);
• * Children and young people who are detained under the Mental Health Act or are being considered for Electro-Convulsive Therapy (Mental Health Act 2007);
• * 16 and 17 year olds who lack mental capacity (Mental Capacity Act 2005);
• * 16 and 17 year olds who are homeless (MHCLG statutory guidance on prevention of homelessness and provision of accommodation for 16 and 17 year old young people who may be homeless and/or require accommodation);

Some young people with special educational needs and disabilities may also need support in expressing their views, and advocacy should be provided where necessary (Children and Families Act 2014; Special Educational Needs (SEN))

Further,  we can confirm that this would relate to families receiving advocacy and help in an SEN tribunal situation, a situation where a young person has been permanently excluded from school, and help in navigating the Education, Health and Care Plan assessment and annual review process.

2. Who provides your statutory advocacy services? Please be inclusive of all statutory advocacy services in your response.

The Devon Advocacy Consortium provides DCC’s statutory adult social care advocacy. The Devon Advocacy Consortium (DAC) consists of 6 partners: Living Options Devon, Plymouth & Devon Racial Equality Council, Rethink Mental Illness, Vocal Advocacy, Westbank (non-delivery partner) and Young Devon. (consortium lead agency is Living Options Devon)

Children’s Services has a block contract with NYAS to provide advocacy services to Children and Young People who are:
• * Involved in Child Protection proceedings age 4-18
• * A child in care or a care leaver age 4-25 (this category also includes young people who are adopted, privately fostered or in a Special Guardianship Arrangement and there is a risk of accommodation breakdown, or if they are homeless and undergoing a Southwark Assessment to determine if they will come into care or be accommodated via another route).
• * Living in the Atkinson Secure Children’s Home
• * Wishing to make a representation or complaint about a health or social care service.

In addition to the block contract, teams can also spot purchase from NYAS if they require advocacy for a child or young person who would meet other criteria under question 1 and there is no other person in their network who is able to advocate for them.

Devon Information and Advice Services offers Information and Support to children and young people with SEND and their families

3. How much has the Local Authority spent on statutory advocacy services each year over the last 10 years, broken down by year and service?

This information relates to the expenditure on various providers and their costs.  Disclosure of the same may impact upon negotiations of future contracts and would therefore affect council expenditure.  Whilst we acknowledge the need for transparency, it is not in the public interest to prejudice the commercial interests of Devon County Council and negotiations with external providers.  This information is therefore exempt from disclosure pursuant to s. 43 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

4. How many people have received statutory advocacy services each year over the last 10 years, broken down by year and service?

5. How many people have received non-statutory advocacy services each year over the last 10 years, broken down by year and service?

In response to questions 4 and 5, we do not hold a central record of this information in relation to children’s social care or education.  To obtain this information would require a manual review of every social care and education file from the last 10 years.  This would take in excess of 18 hours, being the appropriate time limit, and we are therefore not obliged to provide this information, pursuant to section 12 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

In relation adult social care, we can confirm that 1251 people in Devon received statutory adult social care in 2021-22 and that number has remained roughly constant for the last decade.   Further, provision on non-statutory general social care adult advocacy stopped in December 2018 when contract capacity resulted in provision of statutory advocacy only. In 2015-6 there were 596 general/no-statutory adult social care advocacy cases and no other information is available

6. How does the Local Authority assess the level of need for statutory advocacy services?

As the majority of advocacy comes for either children subject to Child Protection or Children Looked After, we base our projections on the number of children and young people involved in Child Protection proceedings, and the number of Children Looked After, compared to those numbers in previous years and the number of children in these groups in previous years.

DCC assesses the level of need for statutory adult social care advocacy services by carefully checking referral levels at quarterly contract monitoring meetings, to prevent the need for waiting lists, which have usually been avoided