Commissioning and monitoring of Independent Mental Capacity Advocate (IMCA) services

Which local authority is responsible for commissioning?

The MCA Code of Practice says the IMCA service to be instructed is the one which ‘works wherever the person is at the time that the person needs support and representation’ (10.12).

There is a strong consensus for which local authority is responsible for commissioning the IMCA service for the different IMCA roles. This is set out below and included in the example service specification.

Where the person is staying may change to a different local authority after the instruction of an IMCA and before decisions are made. For example:

In many such cases it would be desirable for the same IMCA service to continue to work with the person. In others, particularly where the person has moved a significant distance away, where they are unlikely to return to the original local authority, or where the IMCA has limited contact with the person before the move, it may be appropriate for another IMCA service to be instructed.

There is a positive picture of different IMCA services working flexibly in such situations and so there is little need to specify what should happen in such cases in the service specification.

The commissioning responsibilities set out above have avoided the need to cross charge local authorities or health trusts. It is unlikely that there would be any financial saving to local authorities were they to attempt to charge for ‘out-of-area’ instructions.

The administrative costs of any ‘recharging’ may instead increase the real costs for the IMCA service.