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

Statutory guidance on social care assessment and associated process covering adults, children, young carers and adult carers.

Section 1: Introduction


1.1 This document contains statutory guidance. It is issued to local authorities by Scottish Ministers under Section 5 of the Social Work (Scotland) Act 1968. The local authority must have regard to this guidance. It must follow both the letter and the spirit of the guidance. It must not depart from the guidance without good reason.

Statement of intent

1.2 The following statement of intent describes the ultimate purpose of the legal duties and powers covered by this statutory guidance. The local authority, and all individuals or organisations responsible for discharging the duties and powers described in this guidance on its behalf, should have regard to this statement of intent when implementing this guidance.

Self-directed Support: Statement of Intent

Independent living means people of all ages having the same freedom, choice, dignity and control as other citizens at home, at work, and in the community. It does not mean living by yourself, or fending for yourself. It means having rights to practical assistance and support to participate in society and live an ordinary life.

This is the definition of independent living adopted in the strategic approach to independent living, by the Scottish Government, COSLA, the NHS and the Disabled People's Independent Living Movement.

Without care and support and the opportunity to direct their support, many people would not be able to participate in society and live an ordinary life. They would not be able to live free from discrimination and harassment as promoted by the Equality Act 2010, to enjoy their human rights nor contribute to a wealthier and fairer, healthier, safer and stronger, smarter and greener Scotland.

Self-directed support, alongside many other policies, is intended to support, promote and protect the human rights and independent living of care and support users in Scotland. It aims to ensure that care and support is delivered in a way that supports choice and control over one's own life and which respects the person's right to participate in society.


1.3 There are four main legal reference points for the guidance:

  • Section 12A of the Social Work (Scotland) Act 1968 - the duty to assess an adult's need for care and support.
  • Sections 22 and 23 of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995 ("the 1995 Act") - the legal basis for support to children.
  • The Social Care (Self-directed Support) (Scotland) Act 2013 ("the 2013 Act") - the legal basis for choice over care and support.
  • Section 12AA of the 1968 Act, section 24 of the 1995 Act and the accompanying Section 3 of the 2013 Act - the basis for the assessment of and support to, carers.

1.4 This guidance focuses on the duties and powers contained within the Social Care (Self-directed Support) (Scotland) Act 2013 however it addresses accompanying duties and powers in relation to assessment, support planning and review. This is to reflect the key role played at each and every stage of a person's "pathway" through support from initial point of assessment to review.

1.5 A Health Board may discharge social care duties on a delegated basis. Where this is the case, the Health Board (and any relevant professionals acting on the Board's behalf) must have regard to this guidance. In addition the guidance contains a section on the role of healthcare professionals as part of the social care assessment.

Further information and contacts

Self-directed Support Branch
Care, Support and Rights Team
Chief Nursing Officer, Patients, Public and Health Professions
Scottish Government
Room 2.ER, St. Andrew's House
Regent Road, Edinburgh EH1 3DG
Telephone: 0131 244 5455

Further guidance and hyperlinks:

Separate national guides for people who use support, carers and practitioners will be available on the Self-directed Support in Scotland website from 1st April 2014 along with a guide for employing personal assistants.

A guide for provider organisations with follow later in 2014.

Scottish Government (2010) Self-directed support: A National Strategy for Scotland

Social Care (Self-directed Support) (Scotland) Act 2013

Institute for Research and Innovation in Social Services, Self-directed support: preparing for delivery

The Knowledge Network - Implementing Self-directed Support - Personalisation - Human Rights Issues

Scottish Social Services Council - SSSC - Codes of Practice -

Institute for Research and Innovation in Social Services, Legislation relevant to social services in Scotland

Christie Commission (2011) Commission on the future delivery of public services

Scottish Government (2012) Charter of Patient Rights and Responsibilities

Scottish Government, Independent Living in Scotland, COSLA and NHS Scotland (2013) Our Shared Vision for Independent Living in Scotland

Scottish Government (2010) National Guidance for Child Protection in Scotland

Scottish Government (2011) Guidance on the Looked After Children (Scotland) Regulations 2009 and the Adoption and Children (Scotland) Act 2007

Further information about the roles of the Named Person and Lead Professional can be found at

For further guidance on authorities' duties in relation to Sections 22 and 23 of the 1995 Act, see Scotland's Children - The Children (Scotland) Act 1995 Regulations and Guidance: Volume 1 Support and Protection for Children and their Families


Email: Heather Palmer

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