News: Advocacy and Social Security changes in Scotland, info from AdvoCard.

Heidi News

AdvoCard is an advocacy organisation based in Edinburgh led by experience, primarily within mental ill-health. They have been campaigning as part of changes to social security in Scotland to ensure access to advocacy for those in need of support. Below is a statement from them that we think forms a useful briefing for those in the Moray area despite not being covered by AdvoCard services directly. In Moray Advocacy services are commissioned via Circles Network and informal collective advocacy is offered by a number of groups and organisations, including Moray Wellbeing Hub. Learn about advocacy via Scottish Independant Advocacy Alliance.

“Everyone who identifies as having a disability will now have the right to access independent advocacy support if they need it to engage with the new Social Security system in Scotland. Over the past year, along with SIAA, DAS, the ALLIANCE and SCVO, AdvoCard have been engaging with people who use our services, other organisations in the Third Sector, MSPs and the Minister for Social Security to raise awareness of the need for access to advocacy services for everyone who will use the new social security system and to have that right included in the Social Security (Scotland) Bill. Although initially resistant, thanks to all our continued efforts, the Government are now aware of the role that advocacy can play and the need to have access to advocacy services included in the legislation. Following a prolonged period of engagement, at the Stage 3 debate on 26th April, the Minister for Social Security proposed an amendment to the Social Security (Scotland) Bill acknowledging the need for advocacy. This amendment stated that every individual who, owing to a disability, requires an advocates help, will have the right to access independent advocacy services for support to engage with the new social security system. The amendment was unanimously voted in. The Bill has now received Royal assent (on the 1st of June) and became the Social Security (Scotland) Act 2018, passing into legislation. This means that, under Scottish social security legislation, everyone who self identifies as having a disability due to a physical condition, long term health condition, mental health condition, learning disability or any other reason will have a right to access independent advocacy services if they need support to engage with the new Social Security system in Scotland. The Act further states that the Scottish Government has a duty to ensure that advocacy services are adequately resourced and there has been a commitment to making a significant investment in advocacy services through centralised funding. In addition to this they will be consulting with the advocacy sector, both organisations and those who use advocacy, to design standards and regulations around advocacy in social security. This is a huge step forward for Independent Advocacy Services in Scotland and a welcome recognition of the important role that advocacy can play in supporting individuals through changes to social security. As always, we could not have done any of the work we do without the support and input of the people who use our service. We will continue to engage with the Scottish Government throughout the process of arranging the provision of the new advocacy posts and will keep you updated on any progress.”

With thanks to VoX Scotland for publishing this originally in their update.

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