Child SDS budget

One of my children has an SDS budget to fund social activities. We have had a lot of contradictory information from different workers regarding what the budget can and can’t be spent on which has been very confusing. We are now being told that if there is a spend above a certain limit that it has to be approved in advance. The budget has, in my opinion, been used exactly in accordance with identified needs and outcomes. There has never been any dispute over that. It doesn’t feel very self directed if you have to request permission to use it. Can anyone offer any advice as to whether the local authority are right to insist that permission is sought for a spend that exceeds a certain limit?

Hi @MaryP,

There is some stuff in this chat that you may find helpful: Ask permission before, or check up afterwards? - Legislation & Guidance - SDS Forum (

Whether the LA have a right to insist that permission is sought above a certain level is not clear to me, and there is very little consistency between different LAs on this. In general, I think it is fairly standard practice, but this is local policy and not the law (and you probably won’t find it in writing, although I could be wrong). I suspect most of us on this forum would agree that this is not entirely in keeping with the spirit of SDS and I would always like to think that as long as you can evidence it being used to meet needs and outcomes, it should be fine, but it can very much depend on social workers and team leaders.

Decisions can (almost) always be challenged, so might be worth contacting a local advice organisation: Find Local Information and Support - Self Directed Support Scotland | Self Directed Support Scotland (

It’s a no-brainer really. This is from the Statutory Guidance:

Flexible use of direct payments: the choices available to a supported person under a direct payment.

As set out in the section on funding and flexibility, the authority should take steps to ensure that the supported person can use their direct payment in any way, provided that the support purchased via the payment is in line with the assessment and support plan, meets the supported person’s needs and is within the criminal and civil law.

Typically, direct payments have been understood as a route to employing a personal assistant. However, a direct payment can also be used to purchase a wide range of things. For instance:

■ a service from the local authority or from another local authority;
■ a service from a provider organisation in either the voluntary or private sector;
■ a product which can help to meet the supported person‘s needs;
■ a short break; and
anything else which will help to meet the supported person‘s needs and the outcomes in the support plan.

The 2014 SDS Regulations provide additional safeguards in relation to the direct payments – both for the authority and for the supported person. This is to recognise the unique nature of a direct payment and to support practitioners and individuals when choosing the direct payment option.

(My bolding)

I drew up a checklist to help me make sure I could completely justify any spending on my DP, so if it came to a dispute I had rock-solid evidence that I was spending it lawfully. So each time I spend something I fill one in and send it to the LA, not to ask permission but to give them an opportunity to object if they want to. Then we can have an argument about it. Ultimately, if it goes to court, I’ll have good evidence that I was open, transparent and conscientious. I’ll see if I can post a picture of the document. I’ve spent the DP on some stuff that the LA has explicitly not authorised, but I did it anyway and we’ll see what they do.

Let me know if you want to see a filled-in one.

We sent our son to visit his sister in New Zealand, and also paid for a volunteer/close family friend to accompany him. No issues or problems at all. Actually it would have been more costly if he had just stayed in a respite home in Scotland.

This is great, thank you for sharing. I usually upload receipts immediately and put a note in. This is much more thorough.