Social Care (Self-directed Support) (Scotland) Act 2013: statutory guidance

Update of statutory guidance originally published in 2014 which retains some of what was in the original guidance but has some important differences.


Section 10: Transparency and Monitoring

Transparency

There is no single approach to resource allocation prescribed on the face of the 2013 Act, nor any single method recommended by Scottish Government.

However, authorities are expected to abide by the SDS Standard 9 (Transparency), which states that 'practice, systems and processes are clearly understood and are explained in ways that make sense to the person. All decisions that affect a person's choices, support, and personal budget are recorded and shared with them'.

An authority's approach to the allocation of resources should be fair, transparent and clear to everyone. The authority should therefore take steps to involve user and carer groups in the development of any methodology used to define or determine budgets, which will reflect the uniqueness of each person's support plan.

See also Standard 4 on recording practices within the SDS Framework of Standards.

Monitoring and data

This section addresses different aspects of monitoring and data collection.

Welfare monitoring of Direct Payments (Option 1)

A direct payment is not a benefit, nor a simple cash payment. It is an alternative means by which to meet assessed social care needs. This means that financial monitoring on its own is not sufficient and the authority should not approach monitoring as a purely financial process. If the authority concentrates solely on financial monitoring, and if this monitoring is disproportionate and overly bureaucratic, this may discourage people from selecting Option 1 under the 2013 Act.

The welfare monitoring arrangements should be based around the supported person's individual needs and requirements. It should involve a conversation with the supported person about whether their needs are being met. It should be conducted on a collaborative basis, involving the supported person in determining whether their needs are being met.

The social work function within the authority should design and oversee any monitoring in partnership with the finance function. The aims, objectives and approach to financial monitoring arrangements should be influenced by the values and principles in this Guidance.

See also the Financial monitoring section

Integrated monitoring arrangements

It is essential that the two forms of monitoring – welfare and financial – are co-ordinated. The finance function within the authority should approach the task of monitoring in collaboration with social work and in line with the values and principles set out in this Guidance.

It is important that all those involved in monitoring arrangements discharge their role in line with the values and principles and outcome-focused approach associated with SDS.

Monitoring is not a goal in itself: it is a means to ensuring that the person's outcomes are being met and the authority's funding is being used to achieve those outcomes. Honest mistakes should not be penalised. So-called 'stop payment' warnings should not be automatically issued when an administrative matter goes wrong. The supported person should be able to make reasonable adjustments within the broad scope of their support plan and assessment.

This means:

  • Authorities should develop effective arrangements around the corporate policies for the assessment and monitoring of SDS.
  • The authority should ensure that all monitoring arrangements are explained to the supported person. The authority should discuss with the supported person the information they will be expected to provide and the way in which monitoring will be carried out. The direct payment arrangement should not begin until the supported person has agreed to any conditions which are necessary for monitoring purposes.
  • The authority should actively seek the comments and suggestions of supported people, carers and the wider population as part of any review of processes, systems, guidance and procedures and should seek to co-design all such arrangements with the full involvement of supported people and carers from the beginning and throughout. This should include the evaluation of their scheme arrangements. Authorities should not discourage supported people from sharing information about their budgets and support with others.
  • The supported person, the social work practitioner, independent support, advocacy and community brokerage organisations, and support providers are all rich and important sources of data for building a picture of need and demand in an area. The authority should use assessment and review data to understand what choices people are making and what support they are using. The authority should therefore consider regularly publishing data they routinely collect about the experiences and outcomes of supported persons and estimated unmet need, consistent with accessibility and data protection requirements.

Collection and Publication of SDS Data

There is no specific requirement in the 2013 Act concerning the collection or publication of data, and therefore the issue of what social care data to collect or publish is for individual local authorities to consider as part of their statutory duties to publish information about their policies and services.[146]

However, the SDS Framework of Standards agreed in 2021 (including standards on transparency and recording systems) suggests that authorities should take steps to ensure systems are capable of generating sufficient data to monitor and evaluate its own work to deliver the full range of options as set out in the 2013 Act.

The SDS Framework of Standards sets out clear expectations on data systems, namely that they are capable of being used for improvement and planning. Strategic direction on the improvement of data collection and use for the health and social care sector will be set out by the forthcoming Data Strategy for Health and Social Care, which is due to be published in early 2023.[147]

This data strategy will align with the relevant provisions in the Framework of Standards to ensure a consistent approach to the collection of this data in order to support a more integrated approach to health and care and improve the experience for people accessing services.

This work will help address the identified gaps in social work and social care data, including on unmet need in social care, on the workforce, on what choices supported people are making, and on what outcomes are being achieved.

Contact

Email: yvonne.nova@gov.scot

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