Publication - Advice and guidance

Independent advocacy: guide for commissioners

Published: 20 Dec 2013

Advice for commissioners on the provision of advocacy services under the Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003.

52 page PDF

512.3 kB

52 page PDF

512.3 kB

Independent advocacy: guide for commissioners
10. Commissioning Independent Advocacy

52 page PDF

512.3 kB

10. Commissioning Independent Advocacy

10.1 In commissioning advocacy services Commissioners should ensure that their procedures for procurement comply with the public procurement rules as appropriate and reflect the guiding principles contained within the joint Scottish Government and COSLA Guidance on the procurement of care and support services, which was issued in 2010. The guidance is available at

10.2 Jointly published by the Scottish Government and COSLA the detailed guidance includes advice in relation to the European Convention on Human Rights ( ECHR) which recognises individuals' freedom to control their own lives and effectively take part in decisions made by public bodies which impact upon their rights. The fundamental rights and freedoms contained in the ECHR are given legal effect in Scotland by the Human Rights Act 1998 and the Scotland Act 1998.

10.3 The Guiding Principles in Chapter 2 of the joint guidance include the need to involve service users and carers as active partners in defining their needs and the outcomes they require. Section 6 of the joint guidance outlines 'Key Considerations' and the 'Personalisation of health and social care services '. Paragraph 6.8 suggests:

"6.8 Public bodies should consult widely on any proposals for new services; where decisions have to be taken about the continuation of existing services, there will be a need for more focussed engagement with people receiving the services. Public bodies should take account of the views expressed by service users and carers at the analysis stage when:

  • establishing individual needs and intended outcomes;
  • analysing existing arrangements for delivering the service; and
  • deciding if a service should be provided in-house, under a shared service arrangement or by grant funding, or if it should be procured from an external service provider."

10.4 Guidance in relation to Option Appraisal is contained in Section 7 of the joint guidance and advises that information gathered during the 'analysis' stage should inform public bodies' appraisal of the options for service delivery, which might include in-house provision; shared services; grant funding; and procurement. Paragraph 7.15 explains that the decision on whether a service is delivered under contract or grant funded will depend on the nature of the service to be provided and the relationship the public body wishes to have with the service provider. It provides examples of when grant funding might or might not be appropriate and suggests that public bodies should seek legal advice on the distinction between a contract and grant funding where they consider that grant funding may be an option.

10.5 Commissioners may find the 'Decision-making flowchart in relation to the continuation of an existing service' included in Chapter 8 of this guidance useful in helping to determine which procurement route is appropriate.

10.6 NHS Boards and Local Authorities should fund advocacy jointly and guarantee a realistic level of funding for a minimum of three years, albeit that funding is reviewed annually, to the independent advocacy providers. Funding should include costs to cover an external independent evaluation. Significant resources were given to local government and health boards as part of the implementation of The Mental Health Act (Care & Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003, and since 2004 there has been £18 million in the system to implement the Act, of which independent advocacy is an important part.

10.7 Commissioners should recognise that the primary accountability of any advocacy organisation is to the person receiving the service. The organisation is accountable to commissioners for how it spends public money, and should be expected to report fully on this. But commissioners should remember that the advocacy organisation is an independent organisation and therefore there needs to be clear boundaries which are respected.

10.8 Secure long term funding will:

  • allow advocacy organisations to plan for their development
  • allow advocacy organisations to manage change rather than respond to crisis
  • allow trust to develop between commissioners and advocacy organisations
  • provide continuity for advocacy partners
  • allow for greater staff retention.

10.9 There is also a statutory duty under the Equality Act 2010 for NHS Boards and Local Authorities to provide services that are equitable and accessible ensuring that any barriers to services are addressed ( e.g. communication, mobility, sensory, gender and cultural support).



Such a little word

two syllables

replete with meaning,

infinite of possibility

I take the time to listen,

get to know you,

understand the shoes you walk in,

all the miles you've travelled,

the companions

and the stumbling blocks

you've met along the way

You take the time to tell me

all the colours of your journey,

how the meeting place of cultures

didn't happen overnight

I am richer, wiser for your story

so I listen with respect,

come to know you as a friend,

share with you my story

till we grow

in understanding of each other

Soon that little word respect

becomes a way of life

(Jo McFarlane, AWOL, 2013)


Email: Sandra Falconer,

Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit

The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
Regent Road