Update to a User's Guide to Self-directed Support in Scotland (2012)

A brief addendum to the 2009 User Guide which gives a summary of recent policy developments, in particular the publication of a National Strategy and the production of a Bill on self-directed support.

Update to: A user’s guide to self-directed support in Scotland (2012)


Since the publication of the User’s Guide to Self-directed Support in 2009 there have been some significant developments to national policy, including the publication of a National Strategy and the preparation of a draft Bill on self-directed support.

The information contained in the User’s Guide is still relevant and will be useful to anyone using self-directed support or thinking about trying it for the first time. The purpose of this supplementary leaflet is to give you an update on some of those wider developments that are not covered in the user guide. An important change is that SDS is more than direct payments.

Self-directed Support – A National Strategy for Scotland

In November 2010 the Scottish Government published a National Strategy for Self-directed Support. The strategy considers the many factors which affect how self-directed support is delivered, including:

  • The values behind self directed support
  • The processes (including how people are supported, how resources are allocated and how outcomes are agreed)
  • The mechanisms (including the different ways choice can be delivered and a look at the PA workforce)
  • The specific needs of people who use self-directed support and their carers
  • Local authority procurement and commissioning practices

Key Point

Importantly the strategy defines self-directed support as ‘the support individuals and families have after making an informed choice on how their individuals budget is used to meet the outcomes they have agreed. SDS means giving people choice and control.’

The 2009 user guide focuses on one mechanism for self-directed support, the direct payment, but the strategy makes clear that there are other ways of having choice and control that come under the banner of self-directed support.

For example through an arrangement sometimes called an individual service fund an individual can ask the council to commission services of their choosing without ever receiving and handling the money.

The strategy emphasises that an individual should be able to choose to have a direct payment, an individual service fund or to have the council make decisions on their behalf. Or even a mix of all three.

If it becomes law, the Bill on Self-directed Support will mean that everyone who is eligible for support will have the right to choose the option that is best for them.

Legislation on Self-directed Support

The Scottish Government has been developing legislation on Self-directed Support to underpin the aims of the strategy.

The new Bill is designed to help create a fairer balance between the citizen and the state by clearly set out rights and responsibilities of both community care recipients and practitioners.

It will be introduced to Parliament in February 2012. For more information check out the links below.

Key Points

If enacted the Bill will:

  • introduce the language and terminology of self-directed support into statute;
  • place a duty on local authorities to offer four options of self-directed support to citizens:
  • Option 1, the local authority makes a direct payment to the supported person for them to arrange their support (this can include the purchase of support);
  • Option 2, the supported person chooses their support and the local authority makes arrangements for the support on the person’s behalf;
  • Option 3, the local authority selects the appropriate support and arranges support on behalf of the supported person, and;
  • Option 4, a mix of options 1, 2 and 3 for specific aspects of a person’s support.
  • provide a discretionary power to councils to provide support to carers following a carer’s assessment;
  • place a duty on local authorities to explain the nature and effect of each option; in other words - to ensure that the person can make an informed choice, and;
  • consolidate, modernise and clarify existing laws on direct payments.

This guide will be updated to reflect changes in the law.

For more information visit:

Self-directed Support Website -

Self-directed Support Bill Webpage –

Self-directed Support: A National Strategy for Scotland -


Email: Kenneth Pentland

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