Section 10 of the Social Security (Scotland) Act 2018 requires Scottish Ministers to ensure that independent advocacy services are available to support disabled people who, because of their disability, need an advocacy worker's help to make a claim to Social Security Scotland. In this context advocacy services are independent if they are provided by a person other than the Scottish Ministers.
Section 11 of the Act also requires Scottish Ministers to set service standards. The standards will ensure that advocacy support is provided to a consistently high quality across Scotland. These standards will need to be met, or be worked towards, as part of any agreement with Scottish Ministers for advocacy services. The Scottish Government is now consulting on draft social security advocacy service standards.
Such advocacy support will provide disabled people with the assistance they may need to help them claim their Scottish social security entitlements and ensure that they can be fully involved in decisions affecting them. This is a key part of delivering our system based on dignity, fairness and respect.
Why we are consulting
The purpose of this consultation is to gather views on the draft social security advocacy service standards.
We would like to obtain views from a range of organisations and individuals. It would be particularly useful to get the views of existing advocacy users, who may have used advocacy support for benefit claims or other type of service, to ensure we have identified those standards which will deliver a high quality, inclusive and consistently delivered service.
In addition to asking questions about the draft standards we are also asking for views on the potential impacts of the standards on different groups and also on businesses.
What happens next?
The responses to the consultation will be analysed and considered before the standards are finalised. Regulations publishing the service standards would then be laid in the Scottish Parliament around October before coming into force around winter 2019.
The Scottish Government plans to run a procurement process over the autumn for the delivery of advocacy services. The intention is to have funding awarded in sufficient time for services to recruit staff and prepare for delivering social security advocacy support by summer 2020.