An Introduction to Self-directed Support (for PA Employers)

The law in Scotland ensures that everyone who is eligible for social care funding has the right to choose how their social care support is delivered. The law is called the Social Care (Self-directed Support) (Scotland) Act 2013.

Self-directed Support (SDS) is available to anyone who meets the eligibility criteria that their Local Authority (council) has set. It is available to children, young people, adults and older people.

A person can apply for support for themselves and a parent can apply for their child or young person. Someone with active Power of Attorney, Welfare Guardianship or Financial Guardianship can apply on behalf of the person they are Guardian for.

The 4 options for SDS

Option 1

Known as a Direct Payments, this is where the supported person receives the money they need to pay for their support, directly from their Local Authority (Council). This allows them to arrange their own support or purchase a service from a support provider. This is the only option under which Personal Assistants (PAs) can be employed.

Option 2

This option involves the supported person asking someone else to manage the money on their behalf. This could be their council or another organisation. This is sometimes called an Individual Service Fund or ISF. The supported person decides how they want their support to be provided, and the organisation arranges the support and manages the money.

Option 3

With the supported person’s agreement, their council finds a service that meets their needs and arranges their support.

Option 4

A mixture of any of the other 3 options can be used to arrange care and support.

Next steps

You can get help with Self-directed Support from local Independent Support Organisations. Search for your nearest one using the Find Help search tool below.

You can also take a look at the video resources below.

Part of
Last Updated
28 February 2024
First Published
28 March 2022
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Please note that the information contained in this Handbook is provided for guidance purposes only. Every reasonable effort is made to make the information accurate and up to date, but no responsibility for its accuracy and correctness, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed by Self Directed Support Scotland or any other contributing party.

The information does not, and is not intended to, amount to legal advice. You are strongly advised to obtain specific, personal and professional advice from a lawyer about employment law matters, or an accountant/ tax specialist about taxation matters, and from HMRC and your insurers. You should not rely solely on the information in this Handbook. Support organisations listed in this Handbook can help you find appropriate sources of advice.