an adult woman listening to a young woman

Every year we support over 1000 children and young people who are looked after by local authorities in a variety of ways, such as by providing an independent advocate for them. 

Adults who help young people communicate their needs and opinions when key decisions are being made, advocates provide an invaluable service. By acting as a representative who articulates a young person’s wishes in complex situations, each advocate enables a young person in the looked-after system to have a say in decisions that affect their lives.

This matters because as our recent report, The Value of Advocacy for Looked After Children, shows, despite children having the right to express their wishes and feelings on decisions affecting their lives, the current system limits their ability to do so. (Also, an advocate explains how advocacy can be life-changing.)

To help local authorities understand potential costs and benefits of using independent advocates for the young people in their care, we’re presenting two new calculators that allow you to calculate the approximate budget required to provide advocates to young people in your care system.

Use our calculators according to young people's age or issues they face.

21,000 children have no access to an advocate

The latest estimates from the government show that around one-third of councils in England do not spend a penny on providing independent advocacy support for any of the 21,000 children in their care.

One obstacle to provision may be a lack of understanding of the true costs and benefits of providing such a service. 

Advocacy services provide numerous benefits including helping local authorities meet their statutory requirements, such as improving children’s experience of the care system. In some cases - such as through avoiding more formal complaint processes - it can be a cost-saving measure.

How much can advocacy cost?

But how much does providing an effective independent advocacy service cost? While gathering evidence for our report we calculated the costs incurred in four of our services from different regions across England.

We found that on average it costs £31 per hour of staff time to provide the service, with a total cost for each case ranging from £100-4000, depending upon the needs of the young person involved and the complexity of the support required.

Use our independent advocacy calculators

Our new calculators allow you to generate the potential annual cost of using independent advocates in your local authority. The calculators allow you to factor in the the expected level of demand, the age profile of the young people requiring support, and the types of issues they require support with. We have provided further information concerning benchmarks from our services in each calculator.

Ideally, having an understanding of the costs of advocacy services can help local authorities to budget more effectively, and to better understand the benefits of provision for their local area. 

We hope these calculators provide useful support to do this. As always we would like to know how you have used them, and what you think. Please leave a comment below or send us an email.

Calculate cost according to young people's age

This calculator will allow you to generate a figure for the approximate annual budget required to provide effective independent advocacy service in your local area, based on the age of the young people in your care.

The information is based on reviews of cases in our own services to find out the characteristics of the children and young people we supported last year and how much this cost us to provide. The information we gathered sits behind this calculator.

To use the calculator, please add information in the 'Your data' column.

Calculate cost according to young people's issues

This calculator will allow you to generate a figure for the approximate annual budget required to provide effective independent advocacy service in your local area, based on issues faced by the young people in your care.

The information is based on reviews of cases in our own services to find out the characteristics of the children and young people we supported last year and how much this cost us to provide. The information we gathered sits behind this calculator.

To use the calculator, please add information in the 'Your data' column.

By David Hounsell - Economic Adviser
David Hounsell
- Policy team

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