Introducing the first EMIN-certified elder mediator in England!

I’m thrilled that I’ve been certified by the Elder Mediation International Network (EMIN) as an elder mediator, having completed my training (in two years, during Covid, no less!) and successfully fulfilling the robust accreditation criteria and process of this important international network.

‘Congratulations to Margaret Doyle who has just successfully completed all the requirements for the beginning level of Elder Mediation International Certification. Margaret becomes the first Elder Mediator in England to achieve the newly established Cert.EM designation!’

https://elder-mediation-international.net/meet-emins-latest-cert-em-advanced-recipient-2-3/

As a network, EMIN raises awareness of elder mediation as an important area of specialist mediation expertise and, through its certification process, ensures that certified mediators adhere to a code of ethics and conduct their practice to a consistent, credible, recognised international standard.

Age in the UK

And to be the first mediator certified by EMIN in England is the icing on the cake (not the first in the UK – the first UK-based EMIN mediator is in Northern Ireland).

The field of elder mediation isn’t well known in the UK, but it’s thriving elsewhere in the world – including Canada, the US, and Australia. Yet the issues that elder mediation focuses on – ageing and all the pleasures and pains that go with it – are as pressing here as in most countries across the world. According to the Office for National Statistics, UK life expectancy at birth in 2018 to 2020 was 79.0 years for males and 82.9 years for females. Our population is ageing, with our demographics shifting towards older ages because of declining fertility rates and people living longer. The ONS projects that by 2032, nearly 20% of the population in the UK will be of pension age or older.

These projections aren’t uniform across the UK. As the Resolution Foundation has explained, in its report Ageing Fast and Slow, Britain has experienced demographic divergence, with older places ageing faster than younger ones and younger places getting old at a slower pace (or actually getting younger). 

Such demographic divergence matters for local government, the Foundation points out. It also matters for the services for older people administered by local government, because ‘revenue streams often do not match well with the service requirements of local populations of very different – and ever more different – ages’. There are tensions built into demographic change and divergence in the UK, tensions that can lead to disagreement and dispute.

What is old?

What is ‘old’ is a fluid and contentious topic. Here in the UK, ‘old’ might be over 50, the age at which we become eligible for sheltered accommodation. Or it might be 60, when those of us who live in London become eligible for a ‘Freedom Pass’ allowing free travel on tubes and buses. Or it might be the age at which we can start taking our state pension – for some that’s still 65, but for younger groups it’s 66, 67, and going up all the time. Or ‘old’ might be 70, the proverbial three score and ten, or 80, the age at which people were required to shield in the first lockdown of the pandemic.

I’m not overly concerned to define ‘old’, nor am I keen on terms like ‘elder’, and certainly not ‘the elderly’. What I am concerned with is that as we age, we are well supported to live the lives we want to live and we aren’t dismissed, patronised, or excluded. This isn’t about autonomous independence, but about relational independence: living as independently as we want to within reciprocal relationships, whether those be relationships of care or friendship, at home or within our communities, or with the state agencies with whom we interact.

Some of my reading material on ageing and on social care

Why ‘elder’ mediators?

I’ve been a mediator for more than 30 years, and I’ve specialised in disputes involving equalities and specifically disability rights. Although I can now be considered an elder myself, not all mediators are older people, nor do they need to be. But they do need to understand issues and concepts that might not arise in other areas of mediation practice.

The requirements for EMIN certification include being an already accredited mediator and undertaking additional specialist training (70 hours minimum) on issues including elder abuse and safeguarding, family and intergenerational dynamics, legal issues including powers of attorney and guardianship, and dementia. For my area of practice, I need to understand how social care works, including funding of long-term care. And elder mediators need to be curious and engage with questions about how we perceive vulnerability and the way ageism impacts decisions made with and for older people.

How can mediation contribute?

I believe that mediation can contribute to much-needed conversations and ideas about ageing. The underlying principle of participation and supported decision-making is key to mediation. It is also key to the theory, if not always the practice, of work done in social services, health care, including mental health, and disabilities services, including another area in which I work, that of special educational needs and disability rights. The social model of disability rights is one that can be adopted in age rights as well; it moves us away from a medical model, one that focuses on impairment, and explores and addresses the barriers (both physical and attitudinal) that compromise people’s ability to flourish.

Many of the techniques used in mediation are those used in a Strength-Based Approach used by social care professionals, which explores in a collaborative way the entire individual’s abilities and their circumstances rather than making the deficit the focus of the intervention. It is about gathering a holistic picture of the individual’s life, including from their network and other professionals. 

So there is a natural affinity between mediation and the interactions between people and the institutions and government bodies involved in social care and health care.

Who uses elder mediation?

Families, friends, community groups, care homes and agencies, hospices and hospitals – all can make use of elder mediation where disagreement about care or decision-making is affecting quality of life and relationships.

It isn’t just about resolving individual disputes and disagreements. It’s a practice and approach that contributes to better listening and more shared experience. It’s also not always about, or only about, ageing; it can also be about intergenerational dynamics and frictions, about fairness between the young and old, and about the need for better, more creative conversations between generations and within communities.

I look forward to working with individuals, communities, and care and health organisations in this new area of practice!


Ageism – spotlight on the last taboo

‘Once I went to a store to buy a book about Alzheimer’s disease and forgot the name of it. I thought it was funny. And it was, at the time.’

Nora Ephron, I Remember Nothing

A study published last year found that across the world, 1 in 2 people hold moderately or highly ageist attitudes. It’s no surprise really, especially when you include in ‘ageism’ jokes along the lines of Ephron’s, jokes about memory loss and ‘senior moments’. Face it, we find these funny. Until we don’t. And often we lose our sense of humour when, as Ephron notes, the joke starts to be on us.

In many ways ageism is the last taboo, the tolerated ‘ism’. The report on the study of ageism, published by the World Health Organisation and the United Nations in March 2021, explains how insidious ageism is, worldwide – insidious yet largely unrecognised and unchallenged. Ageism applies to both the young and the old, but there is far more research on how it relates to older people. The report analyses what research exists and what it tells us about how prevalent ageism is, where it happens, the impact on health, well-being and economies, and what we can do about it. Its publication is timely, given what we’ve learned from Covid about ingrained narratives on the perceived vulnerability of older people and the way ‘older people’ have been treated as a homogenous group needing protection, whatever their circumstances or wishes.

Yet the opposite is true. When you’ve seen one older person, you’ve seen one older person. One of the most interesting findings in the report is that that ‘the longer we live, the more different from each other we become, making diversity a hallmark of older age’ (p.19). I see that illustrated in the lives of the older people in my life; regardless of chronological age, they approach life, and risk, very differently, and being older in years does not necessarily mean being more risk averse or frightened.

A global issue on several dimensions

Ageism plays out in three dimensions – the institutional (settings such as health care, the media, education, work), the interpersonal (in attitudes and behaviours) and in ourselves, as self-directed ageism. Unfortunately, most of the research on ageism is carried out in what are considered high-income countries, yet most of the world population lives in low- to middle-income countries. That skews what we know about how ageism plays out. But the report concludes, from the research that does exist, that although ‘ageism’ as a word doesn’t exist in all languages, ageism as a concept exists in most, if not all, cultures.

The study challenges the prevailing belief that cultures in WHO regions of Southeast Asia and the Western Pacific (which include China, India and Japan) have higher esteem for older people than do cultures in Anglophone and European regions. Indeed, sometimes the opposite is found to be true (the report cites examples of the way widows are treated in some societies, and the prevalence of accusations of witchcraft against older women in others). The report notes that in some societies, limits were placed on older people’s access to health care and treatments for Covid, as a form of rationing limited resources, or their access to public spaces and transport, as a means of protection. Here in the UK, ageism was inherent in the classification of all people over 70 as ‘vulnerable’ in the Health Protection Regulations for coronavirus published in 2020. That classification, and the guidance to shield at home, has been identified as a potential form of age discrimination. But the issue is complex, and the research raises questions, so in the end, the report notes, it’s inappropriate to make any sweeping generalisations about ageism and cultural norms.

Covid also exposed the narrative pitting one generation against another. In terms of the effect of restriction measures and lockdowns, for example, the vulnerability of the old was set against the mental health needs of the young. The hashtag #boomerremover appeared as a reference to Covid as a leveller, taking out the generation that had sucked up all the resources and left younger people high and dry. The WHO/UN report found that nearly one-quarter of all tweets concerning older adults during Covid has been classified as ageist.

Mediation and ageism

Although it’s not mentioned specifically in the report among the strategies for combatting ageism, I think mediation has a valuable place in countering these narratives, fostering intergenerational exchanges, and challenging ageism in both institutional and interpersonal contexts. Its potential lies in the local and individual, in community relationships rather than broader sociopolitical change. Yet its grassroots influence could lead to wider sustainable change in the ageist narrative.

In elder mediation we adopt techniques of what is known as a strength-based approach, focusing on the abilities people have and not on their weaknesses, identifying sources of resilience. This doesn’t only mean strengths that people have within themselves, and it doesn’t mean ignoring capacity challenges. It’s a fact that ageing can be associated with losses that can require support – losses in mobility, cognition, memory, physical strength. But strength can also be in the resources and support that people can draw on. Autonomy is something we often need help to attain, and it isn’t a worthwhile ambition if it can only be achieved alone.

Mediators also recognise that vulnerability is universal; we are all vulnerable in different ways and at different times. In a recent session I led with mediators on the topic of working with older people, we explored this notion of vulnerability, and I was struck by what one participant said about recognising that everyone in a dispute situation is vulnerable – even the mediator. As legal academic Jonathan Herring has noted, we should be thrilled about this. It helps us to focus on the relational nature of vulnerability – the importance of relationships – which gives more scope for generating and working together on solutions.

And mediation is an ideal forum in which to explore everyday ageism. It offers a space for raising questions, for challenging, for educating and bringing about change that is dynamic, responsive, and intensely personal. Among the issues of ageism that I’ve been involved in mediating are those related to housing, to consumer services, and to work. Behind each of these are underlying assumptions about older people that have affected decision-making and behaviours, limited access, constrained older people’s voices – and they have been shown to be wrong assumptions, or misperceptions, requiring clarification.

Self-directed ageism

One possible reason we tolerate ageism is because we have a bias toward the near. This idea is explored by Helen Small, an English professor at Oxford, in her book A Long Life. She discusses this bias toward the near in the context of philosopher Derek Parfit, who argues that this bias is a choice we make, caring more about what is close to us, including what is near to us in time. If we were to take a more neutral approach to time, he suggests, our sense of the limits on our time left as we age would decrease, we would be less depressed by ageing, and we would set ourselves up for a happier old age. Small suggests this is difficult because one of the most pernicious aspects of ageism is self-directed: the fear and pessimism we feel about our own impending old age. It is, she says, in some ways more objectionable than other forms of ageism, and certainly harder to get a moral handle on, ‘because it pretends to a kind of neutrality in including itself as an object of its own negativity’ (p.151).

This self-directed ageism is part of why ageism remains the last taboo. The WHO/UN report tells us why ageism is so different from other ‘isms’. It ‘involves bias against a moving target’; the object of ageism changes as years go by, and we are all susceptible to it if we live to be older. It is, as Caroline Baum writes in The Guardian, ‘unique in targeting our future selves’.

And that’s what makes Ephron’s joke about going into the bookstore so poignant.


Making rights worth having: the report of the Lords Select Committee on the Equality Act 2010 and Disability

 

 

 

‘We recommend restoring the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s power to arrange the provision of conciliation services for non-employment discrimination claims. The service specification should provide for a range of delivery methods to ensure it is accessible, including provision of face-to-face conciliation, and the service should take direct referrals from the Equality Advisory and Support Service or its replacement.’

Equality Act

Last month the House of Lords Select Committee on the Equality Act 2010 and Disability reported on its inquiry into the Act and concluded that government inaction is failing disabled people. The inquiry, which started in June 2015, received 144 responses to its Call for Evidence and heard oral evidence from 53 witnesses. The published report sets out the committee’s conclusions on a range of issues including the Public Sector Equality Duty, reasonable adjustments, access to services in transport, housing, and leisure facilities, and enforcement and access to justice. It highlights the barriers to challenging disability discrimination in terms of cuts to legal aid, court and tribunal fees, and procedural changes and notes that rights without enforcement are meaningless: ‘Rights which are unenforceable are not worth having.’

It was particularly heartening to see the Committee’s criticism of the Coalition Government’s weakening of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) and its abolition of the EHRC’s power to arrange independent mediation (conciliation) for non-employment cases. I worked as an independent mediator with the original Disability Conciliation Service, set up by the Disability Rights Commission, and its successor, the Equalities Mediation Service. Over the years, from 2001 to 2013, we handled many hundreds of claims alleging disability discrimination in the provision of goods and services.

This provision, the report states, was one of the casualties of the Red Tape Challenge, and it was abolished, with other measures in the Act, because it was considered to place unnecessary or disproportionate burdens on business. The report suggests that the Government should have given the same consideration to measures placing an unnecessary or disproportionate burden on disabled people, and Baroness Deech, chair of the Committee, said: ‘Intended to reduce the regulatory burden on business, the reality has been an increase in the burden on disabled people.’

It’s useful to be reminded of the background of the mediation provision and its demise. From the report:

‘447. The Disability Rights Commission developed a conciliation service to which any complaint arising out of an alleged failure to provide goods or services in a non-discriminatory way under the DDA could be referred for resolution. When the Disability Rights Commission was replaced by the EHRC, section 27 of the Equality Act 2006 gave the EHRC the power to provide conciliation services.

448. In March 2011 the Coalition Government, as part of its examination of public bodies, issued a Consultation Paper putting forward a number of suggestions for changes to the role and functions of the EHRC. One of the questions asked was: “Do you think the Government should repeal the EHRC’s power to make provision for conciliation services, as part of the process of focussing the EHRC on its core functions?” Of the 293 responses received, 61 agreed, 206 disagreed and 26 were not sure. Despite this the Government concluded:

“We have now decided to repeal the EHRC’s power to make arrangements for the provision of conciliation in non-workplace disputes. We do not believe that arranging conciliation services for individual cases fits with the EHRC’s strategic role, or that it is necessary in light of the range of good quality, accessible and effective mediation provision already available throughout England and Wales and Scotland.”660

Accordingly section 27 of the Equality Act 2006 was repealed by section 64(1)(b) of the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 with effect from 25 June 2013.

449.The EHRC wrote: “The removal (which we opposed) of our statutory power to arrange the provision of conciliation services for non-employment cases is a particular concern for disabled people given that the majority of non-employment discrimination claims are disability cases.”661 That concern was shared by the Discrimination Law Association, who told us in written evidence: “DLA members advising and supporting disabled people in non-employment discrimination claims have called for re-instatement of the EHRC power to establish a conciliation service.”662 Most forcefully Nick O’Brien, when asked which two recommendations he would like to see this Committee make, said: “The Disability Rights Commission had a power to arrange for a conciliation service in respect of goods, facilities and services disputes. The need for that, or something similar, has become more acute now that the prospect of taking cases to court—civil cases in the county courts and even in tribunals—is so significantly reduced.”663

The committee also considered whether a new disability ombud scheme should be created. Evidence to the committee noted the plethora of existing ombudsman schemes: As our colleague Nick O’Brien stated, ‘the landscape is already quite cluttered … The challenge is to make sure that the existing ombudsmen more selfconsciously use the powers they already have to embed equality and human rights in what they do.’ The committee was persuaded that yet another ombudsman is not needed and that, instead, the mandates of other ombudsmen should be widened explicitly to cover disability issues.

‘461. We recommend that the Government amend the mandates of those regulators, inspectorates and ombudsmen that deal with services most often accessed by disabled people to make the securing of compliance with the Equality Act 2010 a specific statutory duty.

462. We recommend that any new relevant public sector ombudsman be given an explicit remit to secure compliance with the Equality Act 2010 in the services for which it is responsible.’

Another very useful recommendation relates to data on non-employment discrimination claims. It has been impossible to identify the number of such claims made in county courts because these are not specified. The report recommends:’that HM Courts and Tribunals Service be required to collect from all county courts and from the Employment Appeal Tribunal, and to make publicly available, data relating to disability discrimination claims separately from other claims, as they do in employment tribunals.’

The report overall makes fascinating reading. I look forward to seeing how the Committee’s recommendations are taken forward.


Human rights and discrimination issues in complaints: what is the ombuds’ role?

Earlier this month the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) published guidance on handling complaints about discrimination. The guidance follows a number of critical reports by the IPCC, which found significant failings in the way police forces carried out such investigations and engaged with complainants. It raises an interesting question: To what extent do ombuds and other complaint handlers hold bodies they investigate to account for discriminatory behavior and decision-making?

Fairness is a key concept of the ombuds approach: both fairness of decision-making and fairness of the processes used to handle citizen-consumer ocmplaints. Yet ombuds schemes and other complaint handling bodies in the UK have generally been reluctant to tread into the territory of naming discrimination and human rights breaches in findings on complaints. Part of the reluctance is the concern that any determination of a breach of equalities and human rights legislation must be made by a court. Breaches of human rights can, however, inform findings of maladministration, but as noted by Buck et al in The Ombudsman Enterprise, this innovative use of the law has its dangers, not least the risk of judicial review.

Promoting and protecting human rights is the primary function of National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs), some of whom also have complaint handling roles. A current study of the role of NHRIs in dealing with human rights complaints is exploring how that complaint-handling role fits with the wider strategic function, and to what extent informal processes such as mediation are being used for these. (We were interested to note that the researchers are finding, as we did, that certain ADR and informal processes are ‘amorphous and difficult to isolate’ and that shared meanings and forms of, for example, mediation appear not to exist.) In some countries, the NHRI is also an ombud, but in the UK ombuds are separate organisations; the Council of Europe uses the term ‘national human rights structures’ to refer to those commissions, ombuds and police complaints mechanisms that have a human rights mandate but are not the accredited NHRI.

Last year the Equalities and Human Rights Commission published a guide to human rights in action. The section of the report on regulators, Inspectorates and ombuds (RIOs) includes several case studies, from the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman and the IPCC, illustrating the use of the human rights framework in complaints handling and investigation.

Among those ombuds who have been proactive in identifying these issues in complaints is the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO), which has published a number of reports highlighting the human rights and discrimination elements of many complaints, particularly about vulnerable people in care or hospital (for example, this one on disability discrimination). The former Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman has stated that ‘the Ombudsman’s approach includes an overall concept of fairness, a fundamental commitment to the humanity of individuals and their right to equality in treatment and outcomes. Issues of discrimination and equalities underlie many of the complaints which come to the Ombudsman…’.

The PHSO makes clear in its general standards for determining complaints that it will expect a public body to comply with the equalities and human right legislation and will hold them to account:

‘It is not the role of the Ombudsmen to adjudicate on matters of human rights law or to determine whether the law has been breached: those are matters for the courts. The Health Service Ombudsman’s Principles of Good Administration do, however, state that the Principle of ‘Getting it right’ includes acting in accordance with the law and with regard for the rights of those concerned, and taking reasonable decisions based on all relevant considerations….

If the public body is unable to demonstrate that it has had regard for, and taken account of, human rights, the Ombudsmen will take that fact into account when considering whether there has been maladministration and/or service failure.’

The Northern Ireland Ombudsman has been in the forefront if this work and has worked closely with the NI EHCR to develop a manual and training for complaint handlers to help them identify human rights issues in complaints they receive.

The UK Financial Ombudsman Service has published briefings on the need for businesses to comply with the Equality Act, such as this one. One of the issues is, as FOS points out, ‘consumers rarely articulate their complaint as “discrimination” – or invoke the Equality Act. More often than not, they’re simply frustrated at being unable to access the services they want or need to – and feel that the business’s processes are unnecessarily inflexible and impersonal.’

‘If ombudsmen want a broader canvas on which to paint their distinctive contribution human rights is probably the best, perhaps the only, place to turn at present.’ Nick O’Brien

An optimistic view is that ombudsmen in the UK will ‘increasingly contribute to wards the resolution of human rights issues in public administration, both in conducting investigatory work and in the office’s relations with other bodies’ (Buck et al, The Ombudsman Enterprise, 2011). Nick O’Brien, a human rights specialist and ombuds-watcher, has noted the increased consumerism plaguing ombuds schemes and argues that ombuds can mark themselves out among complaint-handling bodies by having a focus on discrimination and human rights issues: ‘If ombudsmen want a broader canvas on which to paint their distinctive contribution human rights is probably the best, perhaps the only, place to turn at present.’

How far do complaint handlers go in identifying discrimination or human rights as issues in complaints? How do ombuds and complaint handlers use the legal framework for discrimination and human rights in their casework and findings? Perhaps these questions need further research.


Save the planet and mediate!

Save the planet, mediate: could this be a new argument for mandatory mediation?

At a recent meeting about the SEND tribunal, which hears challenges to local authority decisions about special educational needs, I learned that the average evidence bundle is 350 pages, and some bundles run into the thousands of pages. Aside from sympathy for the parties who have to prepare these bundles, and for the tribunal members who have to read them, this fact should generate concern for the environmental impact of so much paper.

In contrast, mediations of these tribunal appeals usually involve a 1-2 page Agree to Mediate statement from each party and, where applicable, the child’s statement of special educational needs (SEN) (soon to be the EHC Plan). Parties might bring along their files and other papers, but they are rarely used during the mediation.

Arguing that its environmentally friendly approach is a good reason to make mediation compulsory is frankly absurd. But is it any more absurd than arguing that mediation should be compulsory because it is cheaper and faster than the tribunal?

From September 2014, we will see the introduction of the first mandatory mediation in the UK. That it has so far remained under the radar is due in part to the specialist area of SEN being an unfamiliar area of mediation practice. It falls between the cracks of non-family civil mediation, despite being the longest running area of mediation in the public law and administrative justice arena. Because the claims are not money-based, it isn’t reflected in the Ministry of Justice’s Civil Mediation Database. Because it isn’t commercial mediation, but nor is it family or community mediation, SEN mediators cannot join the Civil Mediation Council as individual mediator members.

In the UK we have resisted attempts to make mediation mandatory. We’ve had experiments with compulsion in the past, such as with the Automatic Referral to Mediation pilot in the London Central County Court in 2004-05 that was evaluated by Professor Hazel Genn. One of Genn’s findings was that efforts to introduce compulsion led to lower settlement rates, from 69% to 38% during the course of the pilot, and subsequently led to higher costs for parties. The pilot was not rolled out.

Other ways of compelling parties are more surreptitious. They include introducing or raising fees to lodge legal claims (as with employment tribunals), requiring parties to attend a mediation ‘information and assessment meeting’ (as in family cases), and withdrawing legal aid that allows parties to get advice (as in all but very few excluded types of cases). We’ve seen that the government’s attempts to promote the use of mediation in family disputes has spectacularly backfired, with the number of mediations plummeting since the withdrawal of legal aid means that people can no longer access the lawyers who can give them confidence in trying mediation.

With the new requirement in SEN cases, we see a different way of dipping our toes into the mandatory waters. Water is an apt metaphor, given the arguments made by some mediators and members of the judiciary that although you can’t make a horse drink by leading it to water, most horses do actually drink, once they find the water as pleasurable as it is marketed to be. In other words, once people get to the mediation table (even if that’s by force) they will find the process helpful.

The new measures to come in this September are part of the reform of special educational needs provision in the Children and Families Act 2014. If parents want to lodge a challenge to a local authority decision on SEN, they will be required to consider mediation – like the MIAM requirement in family mediation, this means obtaining information about mediation and a certificate from a mediation adviser. Without that certificate, a parent can’t lodge the appeal. If parents decide they want to mediate, the local authority is required to mediate. The twist is that compulsion is for the local authority only.

This is the first instance of mandatory mediation (not just mandatory mediation information) in this country, and it’s being introduced with very little outcry.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m a big fan of mediation for SEN and disability disputes. Mediation works well in these cases, as years of experience and hundreds of cases has shown. My colleagues and I at the London SEN Mediation Service, run by the national charity Kids, have since 2003 seen the way mediation can help parents, schools and local authorities reach holistic and long-lasting agreements that put the child or young person at the heart of the resolution. But we were also among the majority of mediator respondents to the Department for Education’s consultation last year who argued vehemently against mandatory mediation for these cases.

Mediation is a wonderful resource and should be available to all, but it isn’t the answer in all cases. It takes time and effort, and to get a sound result you need the right people, senior people, to attend. For a number of reasons parties might legitimately decide not to mediate, and it serves no one to have parties attend reluctantly or to send a representative to mediation who doesn’t have the authority to settle. Furthermore, the risks introduced by the new requirement and the associated timescales will make mediation less, not more, attractive.

We might find that money is spent on mandatory mediation information provision (paid for by already over-stretched local authorities) and the issuing of certificates, and that numbers of actual mediations go down while tribunal numbers remain the same. The winners in this game are likely to be only the certificate-issuing mediation advisers. The losers are the parents and local authorities who will be forced to jump new hoops, and the children and young people whose provision might be further delayed.