The Role of Local Authorities (Councils)

Local Authorities have the responsibility to implement Self-directed Support in their area. To support them in doing this, there are specific laws that have been passed that outline their legal duties, responsibilities and powers.

When meeting their legal duties, Local Authorities also have to take into consideration the underlying principles contained within the law about Self-directed Support. These principles are:

  • Participation and dignity
  • Involvement
  • Informed choice
  • Collaboration.

These principles form the basis of an equal partnership between someone looking for support (or their carer) and the Local Authority.

Making sure that Self-directed Support works well

It is Local Authorities’ responsibility to make sure that SDS works well in their area. This means making sure that the systems and procedures they have in place enable people to get the support they need, when they need it.

These systems support key activities that Local Authorities undertake, such as:

  • Responding to people’s requests for support
  • Signposting people to other sources of information and support
  • Referring people to other organisations for support
  • Assessing people’s need for support
  • Applying eligibility criteria to see if someone is entitled to support
  • Once eligible, allocating resources to meet people’s needs
  • Supporting people to develop Support Plans
  • Supporting carers to develop Adult Carers Support Plans or Young Carers Statements.

When you are allocated a Social Work Practitioner they will work with you to make sure the following happens:

  • They will make sure you and people involved in your support are included in discussions and decisions as much as you wish to be
  • They will complete the assessment of your care needs and establish if your needs meet the current eligibility criteria in their area
  • They will complete a Support Plan of how your needs will be met and agree the plan with you
  • They will make sure that you know about the services of a local Independent SDS Information and Support organisation, who can provide further information about support available in your local area
  • They will calculate and allocate a budget that will meet the cost of the support needed
  • They will make sure that you know about the 4 Options of SDS and how they relate to your circumstances
  • They will complete any necessary paperwork
  • They will review your support package with you to make sure that everything is working well and your needs are still being met.

The role of the Local Authority with PA Employers

Local Authorities have to make sure that people receiving social care (and carers) understand their rights and choices under SDS, as well as the responsibilities that come with this. These responsibilities include:

  • Accounting for how you spend your SDS budget, so that it is meeting your identified needs as agreed with the Local Authority
  • That if you are employing your own PAs, that you meet all legal requirements related to this (eg. having Employer Liability Insurance in place).

The Local Authority also has to be sure that anyone becoming a PA Employer is clear about their responsibilities and is ‘willing and able’ to take these on, even with any support that is available to the person.

Next steps

Take a look at the article on ‘The Role of the Local Authority and ILF Scotland as Funders of Self-directed Support. You can also look at the SDS Statutory Guidance, which is legal guidance written for councils to tell them how to implement Self-directed Support.

Part of
Last Updated
20 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.