Self Directed Support

What is Self-Directed Support?


From 1st April 2014 all social care in Scotland is now Self-Directed Support (or SDS), under the Social Care (Self-Directed Support) (Scotland) Act 2013. SDS is about having choice, control and flexibility over the support you receive.

You can find out more about SDS and how it works in the National Guides for Service Users, Carers and Practitioners which can be found here.

Everyone assessed as needing social care support will work with a professional to identify their needs and outcomes, be allocated an individual budget and plan how to use that budget to achieve their outcomes.  Outcomes are the things that matter to you, and the results of getting support.

SDS is not just about direct payments. A direct payment is one way of using an individual budget, but it is not the only way that people can have more control over their support. SDS offers people more choice about how they are supported.  Everyone can choose how involved they want to be in managing their individual budget, from these four options:

  1. The council pays money directly to the person and they or their carer manage the budget (usually called a direct payment);

  2. The council or another organisation manages the money but the person directs how it is spent (sometimes called an individual service fund);

  3. The person asks the council to choose and arrange support for them; or

  4. A combination of options 1, 2 and 3.

SDS also introduces a focus on outcomes and more transparency around budgets for support, and allows people to be creative if they want to, rather than having to use traditional service models.  For example, if a person’s outcome is to develop cooking skills, this could be achieved by using their individual budget to purchase a cookery course, or to employ a personal assistant who is a good cook.

What does this mean for carers?

The Act gives local authorities a new power to provide SDS to carers in their own right.  Carers can choose from the same four options for managing their individual budget for their support.  The regulations and guidance accompanying the Act set out circumstances in which local authorities would not be able to charge carers for this support, for example the provision of information and advice, short breaks, training for carers and the cost of taxi fares and driving lessons in special circumstances.

The guidance also gives details of where it may be appropriate to use a direct payment to employ a family member to provide support, as long as both the family member and the direct payment user agree to this. 

What does this mean for minority ethnic communities?

With its emphasis on greater choice and control, SDS allows people to access support that is tailored to their own needs.  This includes being able to access support that is suited better to specific cultural and/or religious needs.  For those in minority ethnic communities, as with everyone throughout Scotland, SDS provides people with the freedom to live their lives in a way that they choose.

How can MECOPP help?

We have produced an SDS Translation Guide.  An easy to understand glossary of SDS terms and concepts, the Translation Guide provides consistent, good quality translations from English to Urdu, Punjabi, Bengali and Chinese and will be an invaluable resource for interpreters and those producing accessible materials.  

For more information please contact:

Michelle Coup (South Asian communities)

0131 467 2994 / 07908 638 168

We are working to raise awareness of SDS in the South Asian community in Edinburgh and the Lothians, to provide accessible information on SDS, and to support people to access direct payments and to get the right support to meet their needs.  In the second year of the project we will also be working in one other local authority area.

SDS resources

Scottish National Strategy for SDS

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

Statutory Guidance to accompany the Social Care (Self-directed Support) (Scotland) Act 2013

The Self-Directed Support (Direct Payments) (Scotland) Regulations 2014

National Guidance on SDS for service users, carers and practitioners

A short video explaining SDS and the four options

Scottish Personal Assistants Employers Network guide to SDS

SDS links

Self-Directed Support Scotland

The Scottish Government’s Self-Directed Support (SDS) website. This is a one-stop-shop for information about Self-Directed Support for people who use social care services and health and social care professionals.


A national membership organisation which actively promotes Independent Living by supporting, working with and championing the aims of Self-Directed Support disabled people's organisations.

SDS Info

A new resource to enable anybody in Scotland to search for local SDS Information and Support services

In Control Scotland

An independent organisation which promotes the development of SDS and individual budgets in Scotland.

CCPS Providers and Personalisation

Launched in October 2010 P&P is a four year programme designed to increase the provider voice in the development of national and local SDS policy and to support providers to increase their knowledge, skills and confidence in preparing for fully self-directed support.

Over the Fence

A website providing independent information about how to get care and support.

Everyone Together

A two day training event and further tutorials that lead to an award, for anyone who is thinking about becoming involved with Self-Directed Support.