Children, Young People, GIRFEC and SDS

Learn about Self Directed Support and when this becomes relevant for a child or young person with additional support for learning needs. We will explore key areas such as:

  • Eligibility and access to SDS
  • How SDS relates to GIRFEC
  • A Child’s Plan and SDS
  • How choice, control and flexibility are supported for children and young people
  • Transitions
  • Access to Independent SDS Information, Support and Advocacy
  • Carers and parents rights and needs and SDS
    We will explore key times in a child’s life, such as changing school, moving to adult services and changes in the level and type of support needed. We will look at how educational and social care legislation connect, as well as considering the rights and needs of carers and parents during this time.

If you’d like to discuss this training or anything related to meeting children, young people and carers needs, please post a question or comment. If you’d like such training arranged for a group of people you know - tell us here and we’ll get back to you.

Do children, young people and parents carers know about SDS and how to access support funded under SDS?
Do Named Persons know about SDS and how to apply for this on behalf of children, young people and parent carers?

Hello I am having a bit of a nightmare with my daughters SDS and would like further guidance as I have mixed messages from the local forum & social work. I am increasingly concerned with the lack of clarity surrounding SDS and know several people who just don’t bother with applying it as they are repeatedly told they can’t use it for things that would support them, not to mention those who know nothing about it! Please tell me how I can become more involved as I feel it is unfair the way some parents are treated, Thanks Gillian

Hi Gillian,
Many thanks for your message. I’m really sorry to hear that you’re having such difficulties at the moment.
The SDS Statutory Guidance which came out to support the SDS legislation is actually very clear about about how people can use an SDS budget, particularly under Option 1 (a direct payment). The Guidance states that:
The authority should ensure that the relevant local guidance or procedures work to assist the person to use the available financial resource in a variety of ways. In other words, to use it in any way provided that it will secure the provision of support agreed with the professional and provided that it meets the outcomes contained in the support plan’ (p.44) (original emphasis on a’any way’ is underlined)
Whilst this specifically relates to Option 1, this could also equally relate to Option 4, where part of any resources might be provided under Option 1 of SDS.

The Guidance goes on to further state:
A direct payment is not a benefit and nor is it a gift. It is a means to meet eligible needs. Its ultimate purpose is to meet the eligible needs of the supported person. As such, it should relate to the person‘s support plan. The direct payment should be used in flexible ways which relate to the outcomes
set out in the support plan’ (p.44)

So there is an expectation that people receiving a direct payment should be supported to use this is as flexible a way as possible to enable them to meet the needs that have been identified.

Some Local Authorities will provide guidance to help people understand how they can make use of such resources. They might use a ‘traffic light’ type system (Green, Amber and Red) to highlight what people can definitely use a budget on, what needs further discussion before agreeing the use of the budget and what it definitely can’t be used on. So for example, paying for any kind of gambling or illegal activity wouldn’t be allowed, but most other things could be.

The issue that many people face is whether the way in which they would like to spend the SDS budget (on a particular activity or piece of equipment), is something that can meet the identified needs of the person requiring support. So it’s really important to be able to show the connection between the use of the budget and a person’s needs. This can often be done in the Support Plan, where you could identify the Personal Outcomes you’re trying to achieve and how the spending of the budget in that way meets those Personal Outcomes.

Obviously, you can spend a budget in many different ways. This could be a large one-off purchase or a smaller on-going spend. They key is linking the spend to the needs that need to be met.

You mentioned that you’d been in touch with a local forum. I’m not sure what part of the country you’re in, but all Local Authority areas (apart from Moray) have an Independent SDS Information and Support service funded by the Scottish Government. I can share their contact details with you if you’d like, as they might be able to support you further with this.

In addition, as a carer, you have a right to an Adult Carer Support Plan, which may (depending on local eligibility criteria) result in an SDS budget being allocated to meet your needs as a carer - or being directed to further supporting your daughter.

If you were able to share what area of Scotland you are in I will be able to find some further contact details for you.

I hope that sounds ok for the moment Gillian.
Many thanks, Mark

Hi Mark,

Sorry for the delay. I am in East Renfrewshire and my daughter has been in receipt of SDS since 2015 and as new staff come and go in social work and the SDS forum the goal posts change.

We have never had an increase until the battle I am having now and its still ongoing (has been for a couple years now) they have agreed a budget now for both my children, my sons first budget but still haven’t paid it and I have disagreed with it as around 95-100% of the budgets is allocated to extra carers nothing else and I have to go through another option to receive it! which I feel is intimidating and unfair! not to mention a waste of time, may as well stayed with the existing system?

I have contacted my local msp and I want to speak to the actual ministers who created the whole thing to hear exactly their ethos.

I am tired fighting but refuse to give up. I personally feel the “independent” forum is routed by the council and social work.

Sorry for the delay again, I have now been diagnosed with . I don’t deny I have a lot going on in my life but definitely feel that my illness has been enhanced with the stress of securing independence for my children.

My phone number is , Your welcome to give me a call, I am not sure if your are just a service user or an an independent rep? Thank you

1 Like

Hi Gillian,
Many thanks for the reply. There certainly sounds like there are a few areas of concern for you at the moment. If I were to sum this up this seems to cover:

  • The level of SDS budget that you have been allocated and whether this is enough to meet the identified needs that your son and daughter have. The level of budget may differ depending on which or the 4 SDS Options you are looking at - as there can be some differing costs which each Option

  • Choice of Option - and being supported to choose which might be the most appropriate SDS Option for both your son and daughter

  • Being paid the SDS budget in a timely manner so that you can start to put in place the support that your son and daughter need

  • Having your needs as a carer recognised, particularly through an Adult Carers Support Plan (ACSP) which, if you meet local eligibility criteria - you might be eligible for an SDS budget as a carer

  • Access to local support so that you can address any outstanding issues you have

I work for Self Directed Support Scotland and we try to support people who might have queries or issues with SDS implementation, by connecting them with a local organisation that understands how the local social care system works.

You mentioned having been in contact with the SDS Forum East Renfrewshire and maybe the Carers Centre. I don’t how the extent of that contact, but I do know people at the SDS Forum who are very knowledgeable about SDS and I’m sure would want to support you with any outstanding issues if that was helpful. I understand that you’ve felt the need to approach your elected representatives and this might be needed at certain times. However, I’m not sure if you have the opportunity to try and address these issues with anyone at the Social Work Department, as they are ultimately the organisation that is responsible for delivering SDS locally.

I will certainly give you a call to discuss these points further.

Many thanks,

Mark Han-Johnston

1 Like

Hello Mark

Yes that covers the concerns I have. I not had e confidence in my local sds to be honest as their attitude, opinions have changed with regards to my daughter once they have been in contact with the social work dept and after discussions it appears that the budget is only used for carers

If the budget was only made for carers then why offer it as sds. I have a meeting with social work (4 of them) on a teams meeting as I feel it to intimidating to do face to face.

I personally would like to become personally involved to help other families who maybe don’t have my determination and give up. As I said I am unwell at the moment with Fybromaralgia and my own gp is appalled at my situation and has identified that my condition has deteriorated due to this excess stress

We have a membership for David Lloyd sports centre that we haven’t been using as I am too embarrassed as it hasn’t been paid since December , Social works advice was to go and tell them my families situation to see if it would be ok. I certainly don’t feel comfortable telling them the situation. Its bad enough I need to explain my family life to all in sundry in social wor, council, and education services in East Renfrewshire without starting to explain to com plate strangers its insulting

Anyway I could witter on for ever. I really want to speak to the policy maker for complete clarification

I took part in a SDS forum and there was a parent on there who had stored to take her own life as she couldn’t cope with her daughter, especially during lock down. Everything she asked to use the sds for to help alleviate her situation she was told “no its not for that” I am sorry that is just not on!

I have another friend who has refused sds as again everything she asked to use it for she was told no! Her son also has autism and is a school refuser so she wanted to use it for some things that could be classed as “education” she was told no. Days out with him - no! Everything she wanted to use it for was to encourage his confidence, his independence and encouraging his interests in gaming and science

So I thing there is something not right here

Gillian Connolly

Hi Gillian,
Many thanks for your reply. I can see that there are quite a few challenging issues to deal with here. If you would prefer to discuss this further you are welcome to give me a call. My number is: 07949 143433 or I could call you.
Alternatively, we could arrange to speak on Zoom if that was helpful?
Many thanks,


Hi Mark

Are you any further forward? I am being referred to a debt credit agency as I can’t afford payment

I am being told that I have to explain my finances to more people to ask to stop it - I know people who work in the club and I really don’t need more people know my finances

How is it right that I am being treat like this? It’s so unfair! I want to make formal complaints I have had enough!

I will try to find your number again

Kind Regards
Gillian Connolly

Hi Mark

I am so sorry to pester on. Did you manage to speak to your legal rep? Is she able/ willing to help me?

My last email was a little disorder sorry but I can’t begin to explain the stress this is all still causing me

David Lloyd sent an email stating if outstanding fees are not paid by the very latest today I will be sent to a debt handling agency

I have spoken to the newly appointed social worker, the existing social worker, thier direct line manager and her direct manager. All have agreed that my sons budget was agreed as far back as when I actually spoke to you but still no payments have been made

I would like to know where I go from here. I now want to make formal complaints, I am I’ll with it all! It is causing such distress and distrust

I would also like to know I can put your name forward properly? I am being spoken too as if you and our conversations are figments of my imagination

Again I feel that there is very much discussion going on behind the scenes that I am not privy too

I am being told that health & education assessments are not allowed to be paid for by sds even though they would match an outcome

I am so very tired of the whole experience

Kind Regards
Gillian Connolly

Dear Gillian,
I’m just picking up your messages now. I will email you directly and see if we can get you connected to Dionne so these issues can be looked at.
Many thanks,


Is there any training planned for this topic?

Hi Kazzie Pea,
Thank you for your post and welcome to the SDS Forum.

At the moment we don’t have any training planned that would cover the topic of children, young people, GIRFEC and SDS. We have held an information session on this before so it is something that we could do again. I will have a chat with colleagues here to see if that would be possible.

If you’d like to be kept updated on this, you can always contact me directly at:

Mark Han-Johnston

You could also sign up to our mailing list on our website here:

If there are certain questions or issues that you’d like to be covered in such training, just let me know as well.

Many thanks,


Hi Markieboy, in general I think you’re giving great advice, but again this bit here I think may be wrong. As far as I am aware there is no duty on DP users to consult BEFORE they spend the money. If the local authority objects to a particular item of spending, the correct mechanism is to challenge that spend through the monitoring process.


Are you saying that you were trying to get option 1, but you couldn’t reach agreement with the local authority what the agreed outcomes should be? And that on the basis of that disagreement, the LA is saying that if you want support, you must choose option 2, 3 or 4?

They might be able to refuse Option 1, but it has to be on lawful grounds.