Making sure that children, young people and adults with a learning disability are able to access effective, independent advocacy that helps improve their lives

What actions need to be taken?


1. Ensure that people with a learning disability who are detained in inpatient units have access to skilled advocates 

The NHS-commissioned Review of Advocacy highlighted that access to skilled, independent advocacy for people in inpatient units is inconsistent and in many cases unavailable. Among the issues highlighted were that children and young people were in many cases not covered by the advocacy contracts that local authorities had purchased, and that local authorities were unclear on their responsibilities in this area. 

The Building the Right Support Delivery Board needs to: 

  • Respond to the recommendations of the Review of Advocacy, and set out an action plan for what actions they intend to take on these 

The Department of Health and Social Care needs to: 

  • Write to all a) ICBs and b) local authorities and ask them to clarify their funding arrangements for advocacy – they must ensure that advocacy is commissioned for children and young people as well as adults 
  • Engage with the Department for Education on the new standard for non-instructed advocacy that is currently being developed, and promote this 

2. Introduce a national advocacy strategy and task force to plan and action required changes 

The issues highlighted in the Review of Advocacy show that there are serious issues with advocacy for children, young people and adults in inpatient settings, but people with a learning disability and families have raised that advocacy in other areas is also frequently inadequate. This occurs throughout different parts of the system – education, health, social care, housing – and requires a cross-governmental solution. 

The Government needs to: 

  • Introduce a multi-agency taskforce, including people with a learning disability, autistic people and family carers, to oversee the development of a national advocacy strategy and monitor its implementation 


We have worked to co-produce these actions and asks, building on years of work that has gone before it. We are happy to engage with policy makers at a local, regional, and national level about how we can get things right for people with a learning disability whose behaviour challenges. If you would like to talk about any of the actions in this plan, or any work you are planning on doing, please email 

Further information and resources

Commissioning Advocacy

Commissioning Advocacy

A guide for commissioners on how to commission advocacy services for individuals with severe learning disabilities

Challenging Behaviour Charter

Challenging Behaviour Charter

The Challenging Behaviour Charter sets out the rights of people with a learning disability and the action that needs to be taken.