Self-Directed Support

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Self-directed support is designed to ensure people are given a range of options for how their social care is delivered, empowering people to decide how much ongoing control and responsibility they want over their own support arrangements, beyond just direct payments.  

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

The Social Care (Self-directed Support) (Scotland) Act 2013, which came into force on 1 April 2014, requires local authorities in Scotland to offer people four choices on how they can get their social care. The choices are:

  • Option 1: direct payment
  • Option 2: the person directs the available support
  • Option 3: the local authority arranges the support
  • Option 4: a mix of the above.

Other provisions in the Act include a power to authorities to support unpaid carers and duties on authorities to give information to help them make an informed choice.

The Act followed publication of the Scottish Government's 10-year National Strategy for Self-directed Support in Scotland in November 2010.


The Scottish Government has published a range of guidance documents to accompany the legislation:

The Scottish Government has also published Carer’s Assessments (Scotland) Directions 2014, to accompany the Act. The document provides guidelines for local authorities to establish the circumstances where a carer is deemed to be providing ‘substantial’ support to an individual, assessing the effects on a carer’s mental health, and taking the age of a carer into account.

The Scottish Government's SDS Policy team have recently created a new network on the social media site Yammer as a platform for people to share good practice/ideas, along with implementation concerns. People who may find the Yammer group useful includes local authorities, providers, support and information organisations, practitioners, and service users and their families and carers.

To sign up to Yammer to join this group please click here.

Providers and Personalisation has published a Guide to the Social Care (Self-directed Support)(Scotland) Act 2013 and how it applies to different groups and services. The guide explains how SDS should apply to different groups, including children and young people, and highlights the role of commissioning in supporting sustainability for different types of support and services under SDS. 

In December 2017, the Scottish Government commissioned a new research project on self-directed support (SDS). The project will consider: Evaluability Assessment of SDS; Research on the economics/resource implications of SDS; and Research on Option 2 in practice.The contract for the research has been awarded to a consortium led by Blake Stevenson Ltd with Rocket Science Ltd and the University of York. 

National Implementation Plan

In December 2016, the Scottish Government launched the National Implementation Plan 2016-18 for self-directed support. This followed extensive engagement with stakeholders, the Scottish Government, COSLA, Self Directed Support Scotland  (network of disabled people’s organisations), Social Work Scotland, Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC), Coalition of Care and Support Providers in Scotland (CCPS) and Scottish Care have worked together.

The Plan outlines the responsibilities and roles of national partners over the next two years to address the challenges that have been identified since SDS was implemented. The Plan also explains the range of evidence to be used in evaluating the impact of SDS.

Statement of Values and Principles

The Scottish Government has published a statement of values and principles underpinning the Self-directed Support (SDS) strategy and legislation. The statement is intended to influence local practice in a positive way.

The values are:

  • Respect;
  • Fairness;
  • Independence;
  • Freedom; and
  • Safety.

The principles are:

  • Collaboration;
  • Dignity;
  • Informed choice;
  • Innovation;
  • Involvement;
  • Participation;
  • Responsibility; and
  • Risk enablement.

An easy read version has also been published.

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