Independent Living in Scotland

There is a specific definition of Independent Living that is used in Scotland. This is incorporated into the law and legal guidance around Self-directed Support and underpins the delivery of social care support in Scotland.

The law around social care in Scotland is called the Social Care (Self-directed Support) (Scotland) Act 2013. There is also legal guidance written for councils on how to implement the law, called the SDS Statutory Guidance. These are based on a clear and agreed definition of Independent Living.

This states:

‘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 (Convention of Scottish Local Authorities), the NHS and the Disabled People’s Independent Living Movement.

Without social care 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, 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 people who use social care support in Scotland. It aims to ensure that social care 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.

Personal Assistants (PAs) therefore, are supporting people’s independent living on a daily basis.

Next steps

Further information on independent living can be found in the resources below.

Part of
Last Updated
06 February 2024
First Published
13 May 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.