Frequently Asked Questions



1. What options are available to me through Self-Directed Support?

There are four options available to people who choose to use self-directed support. These are:

- Option 1: A Direct Payment

- Option 2: Directing your own support, with the Council or another organisation organising it for you. This can be called an Individual Service Fund

- Option 3: The Council organises and selects your care

- Option 4: A mix of options 1, 2 and 3





1. Can someone, other than the assessed person, receive and/ or manage the payment?

Yes – Parents of, or those with parental responsibility for, children under 16 (or in some circumstances under 18). Guardians/Attorneys of adults over 16 – and certain persons included by Scottish Government guidance (this would include members of circles of support, user-controlled trusts, independent living trusts or certain individuals providing assistance), all at local authority discretion.


2. Will I have to pay for the services I receive through Self-Directed Support?

To receive any service from your council you will be assessed financially (means tested) to see whether you should contribute some money to help pay for it. Your local authority will charge you in the same way that it charges people it provides arranged services to.


3. Where can I go to buy the services I need?

You can make arrangements yourself and employ your own staff and they will report directly to you. Or you can buy services from an agency, a private service provider, or voluntary organisation.

They will be responsible to you, not to the local authority. Some people have a contract with a service provider to provide any emergency cover they may need should any problems arise.


4. How do I decide how much to pay people?

If you choose to employ your own staff you can discuss rates of pay with your local support organisation such as Cornerstone in Aberdeenshire and Moray or your local authority. How much you can pay will of course depend on your funded budget, but the amount should be enough for you to pay for the services you have been assessed as needing.

Details of the national minimum wage can be obtained from the National Minimum Wage helpline on 0845 6000 678.

Many people find it helpful to use a specialised payroll service. Such services may take on responsibility for paying wages, tax and national insurance based on information supplied by you and also complete any financial returns that are due to the Local authority on a quarterly basis.

For details of payroll services in your area ask your local authority, local support service or local area co-ordinator.


5. Can my PAs be self employed?

PAs are usually employed directly by an individual on Self-Directed Support. However, it is possible for a PA to be self-employed and for you to contract their services.

A PA cannot be asked to be self-employed to enable the individual on Self-Directed Support to avoid taking on employer's responsibilities such as paying tax and national insurance.

It is essential that self-employed PAs provide proof from the Inland Revenue that they are regarded as self-employed for tax purposes. Details of the criteria the Inland Revenue apply to determine if a worker should be classed as self-employed are given at the HM Revenue and Customs website. HM Revenue and Customs New Employers helpline – 0845 6070 143.

Only registered agencies are able to provide cover as part of their service agreement. If the local authority thinks that someone is acting as an agency and is not registered, they have a duty to report this to the Care Inspectorate. If there is any doubt about whether the terms and conditions under which a worker is carrying out their duties are those of self-employment, then the individual on Self-Directed Support must seek advice from the Inland Revenue.


6. Can I employ a family member?

Close relatives cannot normally be employed to provide support services. This general position remains important because of the very different relationships that a person would have with an employee and a family member and the conflicts of interest that can result from employing a close relative.

Self-Directed Support is not meant to replace the help you get from your family and community.

So you cannot normally use local authority funds to get a service from:

  • your husband, wife or partner or

  • close relatives or their partner or husband or wife.

You should discuss your situation with the local authority if you think that any person you would like to employ or buy services from might be in one of these categories.

In exceptional circumstances, your local authority may be prepared to consider allowing you to use Self-Directed Support to pay a close relative.

Alternatively, if you are receiving money from the Independent Living Fund (ILF) it may be possible to use this part of your overall budget to employ a close relative. You will need to discuss this with your care manager.


7. Can Guardians or Attorneys request and receive Self-Directed Support?

Yes. These persons can consent on behalf of someone, if the client evidently lacks capacity. The Local Authority would have to conclude, in its assessment, that the person with assessed need has, after every attempt to support them, no capacity to make a decision to receive Self-Directed Support.


8. Can I buy occasional short breaks (respite)?

Yes, respite is a short break which is to act as a positive experience for the person with support needs and the carer, where there is one. The term includes a wide range of different services of limited duration.

The common factor is not what service is provided, but its purpose. Respite can be offered in a wide variety of settings, including breaks in residential homes, respite-only units (e.g. specialist guest houses), breaks in the home of another individual or family who have been specially recruited, breaks at home through a support worker or sitting service, or holiday type breaks.


9. Can I use my funding for domestic support such as keeping my house clean and tidy?

Payments are intended to cover the cost of existing council services. After an assessment, your local authority will decide whether or not you require funds for domestic home care services, this decision is at their discretion.


10. If I move from one local authority area to another will I still get the same level of support and will I be charged the same contribution?

Not necessarily. If you move to another local authority you will be asked to complete an assessment.

Each council will assess your level of support in the local community care context, and may therefore ask for a different level of contribution or offer a different level of support. If you are not happy with your payment see question below.


11. What can I do if I think the payments are not enough?

If you think the money you are offered is not enough, you do not have to accept it.

You can dispute the amount offered. You will need to discuss with your local authority what will happen while your complaint is being worked on.

You can accept the individual budget if you want, while your complaint is being dealt with. If you do not want to do this while your complaint is being considered, you can choose to get arranged services instead.


12. Who can I complain to if I am not happy with the service?

If you are not happy with any action, decision or apparent failing of the local council, you can use the local council complaints procedure.

The council will be able to explain to you how to make a complaint. You may find that an independent mediator can help solve the difficulty. If this is not successful then you can go to the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman.

If you are not happy with the services being provided by a provider or an individual, you should complain to the provider or take it up with the person concerned.

Alternatively, a complaint can be made to the Care Commission about any registered service. Local support services and SPAEN can provide information and advice about how to conduct any complaints.


13. How can I find out more?

You may find it helpful to look at the User's Guide to Self-Directed Support in Scotland, 'Directing your own support' which offers advice to people who are thinking about being in charge of their own social care support, or who are already doing so, but have questions about the process.  This is available via their website, http://www.selfdirectedsupportscotland.org.uk/

Cornerstone have their own publications and leaflets on directing your own support and what support they can provide to help you .

An "easy read" guide to direct payments in Scotland is available from the Scottish Consortium for Learning Disability.

The Scottish Government has published full National guidance on self-directed support.

Link to further Frequently asked questions on Self Directed Support Scotland website