Spending allowed

Can SDS be used to clean the home if that is the main reason for support services?

Hi Annie,
Welcome to the SDS Forum and thanks for your post.

I think the short answer to your question about someone using an SDS budget to pay for cleaning their home is a ‘maybe’. I think you’ve picked up on a key point - whether the use of the SDS budget is helping to meet the identified needs of the person that requires support.

There is some national SDS Guidance that refers to the use of SDS budgets. When talking about Option 1 (a direct payment), it states:

‘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 practitioner and provided that it meets the outcomes contained in the support plan.’ (p.18) (my emphasis)

So this is highlighting some key requirements:

  • That the Local Authority should support people to use their SDS budget in the most helpful and flexible way possible

  • That the use of the budget still has to meet people’s identified needs and Personal Outcomes

  • That the use of the budget has to be agreed with your Social Worker / Local Authority

So if you thought that cleaning was an activity that helped to meet the identified needs and personal outcomes, it would be a case of having a discussion with any Social Worker involved, to see if this is something that could be paid for from the SDS budget. You can find details of the SDS Statutory Guidance here: Social Care (Self-directed Support) (Scotland) Act 2013: statutory guidance - gov.scot

There is also something called the SDS Standards. These are Standards for the Local Authority to meet when implementing SDS at a local level. The SDS Guidance comments on the Standards and states:

‘The new standard is that people are involved in the development of their budget and have maximum
flexibility to use this in the way that they choose to achieve agreed outcomes. The available funding
should be allocated in a way that is transparent, fair, equitable and sufficient, across all communities and for all individuals.’ (p.55)
You can find more details on the SDS Standards here: Social care - self-directed support: framework of standards - gov.scot

In addition, the Guidance also states:
‘*Meeting this standard means that authorities must not impose blanket bans on funding certain kinds of goods (for example, holidays) and services (unless prohibited by the 2014 regulations).’ (p.56) (my emphasis)

So if the Local Authority has a local policy on the use of SDS budgets, they couldn’t have a ‘blanket ban’ on using the budget in certain ways (unless this was illegal, put the person at risk, or would not meet the person’s identified needs. So it may be difficult to say that cleaning wasn’t something they could fund.

I hope that helps but do come back to me if there’s anything else you would like to discuss.
Many thanks,

Hi Annie, an SDS budget can definitely be used for a cleaner, as long as you can evidence why this would meet the unmet needs of the carer and/or cared for person.

As a parent carer, we were able to use part of our daughter’s SDS budget to pay a cleaner, as my partner and I identified this as something that would really make a difference at a time that we were struggling. Because this was a service for a carer, it was non-chargeable, and we used some of our direct payment budget to pay for this.

However, if it is the cared-for person who needs the help with housework, this would fall under ‘non-personal care’ and therefore could be chargeable depending on the person’s income and savings: Free personal care | Carers Scotland

Hope this makes sense and is helpful.


I’m not sure that’s entirely right! Of course, the level of support (i.e. the budget) is a decision for the local authority ONLY (but can be challenged). What the budget is then spent on is NOT the decision of the local authority, not even partially in my opinion. What is a joint decision is what the agreed personal outcomes are. That is where the local authority can influence the spending options. But once the outcomes are agreed, the decision about what to actually spend the money on is wholly the direct payment user’s. The is NO requirement to seek approval PRIOR to any spending, not that I am aware of. Of course, the spending MUST be lawful. That is, the spending must be in pursuit of the agreed outcomes, and not involve any criminal activity, and so on. It is the duty, and right, of the local authority to check RETROSPECTIVELY that the budget is being spent lawfully in pursuit of the agreed outcomes. If the LA believes it has been misused then there are steps they can then take.

  • Level of budget is WHOLLY the LA’s decision (but can be challenged by DP user)
  • What to spend on is WHOLLY the DP user’s decision (but can be challenged retrospectively by the LA)
  • What the Agreed Personal Outcomes are is a JOINT decision. (Not sure how this works in practice if there is an intractable disagreement - but that tends not to happen as it seems that Social Workers tend to write these with or without consultation with DP users.)

Again, I disagree. If Annie thinks that getting a cleaner meets the agreed outcomes and is lawful, then she can go ahead and just do it. She might (but doesn’t have to) check with the LA first, but if they say ‘no’ she can STILL go ahead and just do it. It is the job of the LA to then challenge that decision with a proper reason based on primary legislation, regulations, statutory guidance and policy (in that order), not some arbitrary preference.

In order to help myself make spending decisions lawfully, I created a checklist. I can’t upload it here as a docx file, but I can post the text. See below. I refers to the 2013 legislation and the 2014 regulations. I think I’ve covered all the points. The idea is that you fill out one of these for every new kind of expenditure.

Direct Payment spending test checklist

This table is intended for the benefit of Direct Payment Users as an (entirely optional) tool to assist
decision making in relation to DP expenditure and as evidence of that decision making should any
dispute arise.

Reference is made to:

• Social Care (Self-directed Support) (Scotland) Act 2013
• The Self-directed Support (Direct Payments) (Scotland) Regulations 2014
• Social Care (Self-directed Support) (Scotland) Act 2013 Statutory Guidance

“The intended goal of the 2013 Act is to shift the balance of power from people who provide
services towards those who access them.”
Social Care (Self-directed Support) (Scotland) Act 2013 Statutory Guidance p 7

Details of item or service purchased


Date of expenditure:

Agreed outcomes as defined on the SDS Option 1 Support Plan:
[copy and past the ‘agreed personal outcomes’ here]

Test questions:
Explain how the expenditure will “meet the supported person‘s needs and the outcomes in the support
plan” (Guidance, p 19)

Is the person supported in express agreement with the expenditure? If not, please explain why. (Guidance, p 16)

Will the expenditure cause the balance in the DP account to fall below £1000? [in my case 3 x the monthly budget]

Does the expenditure represent good value for money?

What alternatives have been considered (if any) and why were they rejected?

Does the expenditure promote the general wellbeing of the person? (Guidance p12)

Does this expenditure uphold the principle that “the right to dignity of the person is to be respected” (see 2013 Act s(2)(a))

Does this expenditure uphold the principle that “the person’s right to participate in the life of the community in which the person lives is to be respected” (see 2013 Act s(2)(b))

Will the expenditure be using the DP “(wholly or partly) for some purpose other than to secure the provision of the support to which it relates”? (see Regulation 6(1)(b) of the 2014 Regs)

Will carrying out the expenditure give “reasonable grounds that the direct payment user has breached the criminal law or a civil law obligation in relation to the support to which the direct payment relates”? (see Regulation 6(1)(c) of the 2014 Regs)

Will the expenditure be “used (wholly or partly) to secure the provision of support by a family member other than in circumstances where the family member is permitted to provide support by regulation 8 (as read with regulation 9).” (see Regulation 6(1)(d) of the 2014 Regs)

Are there “contractual obligations entered into by the direct payment user” in relation to the expenditure? (see Regulation 6(3)(a) of the 2014 Regs) If ‘yes’ give brief details.

Will a family member provide the support detailed in the expenditure? If yes, explain why in terms of Regulation 8 of the 2014 Regs

Thanks for this, Josh. I think this is a really healthy and important discussion, and at the very heart of good SDS practice, as it seems to come down to how spending under option 1 (and the role of social workers in gatekeeping this) is typically viewed/practised vs how the legislation and guidance says it should be.

I know of plenty of examples of people feeling totally disempowered to spend their budgets, which is clearly not how it should be. I also know as someone who both works in the SDS field and manages an SDS budget (for my daughter), that I can be guilty of taking a risk-averse approach to spending with regards to getting ‘permission’ from the local authority. Your point that “It is the duty, and right, of the local authority to check RETROSPECTIVELY that the budget is being spent lawfully in pursuit of the agreed outcomes” certainly gives me food for thought.