The Scottish government has published a 10-year strategy that aims to personalise care and support services across the country.
The Self-Directed Support strategy plans to ensure “as many people as possible” can choose how their own support funding is spent, through “self-directed support” (SDS).
Disabled people will be given individual budgets – pots of money which could include not only their social care funding but also money from health, housing, education and employment schemes such as Access to Work, Supporting People and the Independent Living Fund – a similar policy to that being trialled in England through the Right to Control pilots.
A pilot project found that none of those using individual budgets in North Lanarkshire reported that their individual budget had had a negative impact on any area of their life.
The new strategy aims to make SDS the “mainstream” route for funding support in Scotland, although no-one will be forced to use it, with Shona Robison, the Scottish public health minister, saying SDS “should be available to everyone but imposed on no-one”.
In England, which is further ahead on the personalisation of care and support, the government wants everyone eligible for ongoing social care to be receiving a personal budget by 2013.
There will also be draft legislation next month to “underpin” the Scottish strategy by modernising the law on social care and “enshrining choice and control for individuals”.
But the strategy warns that – because of cuts to public spending – the development of SDS “may be evolutionary rather than revolutionary”.
In 2009-2010, government figures show that just 3,678 people in Scotland were using SDS in the form of direct payments.
Jim Elder-Woodward, convenor of Independent Living in Scotland, a disabled people’s organisation set up to develop the independent living movement in Scotland, said this number had grown by only one per cent a year since its introduction.
He said: “Independent Living in Scotland therefore welcomes this strategy as a positive step to address this, but stresses that it will be crucial to develop and maintain the leadership needed within local councils to make it a reality for the majority of disabled people in the community.
“We call on both government and local authorities to show leadership and share the vision of independent living, a vision in which self-directed support plays its central and crucial role in securing disabled people’s place in society, as free and equal citizens.”
23 November 2010