Colin reflects on the findings from the Public Audit and Post-Legislative Scrutiny Committee's enquiry into Self-directed Support.
In November 2017 the ALLIANCE gave evidence to the Public Audit and Post-Legislative Scrutiny Committee (this link will take you away from our website) (the Committee) alongside other representatives from the Third Sector and Health and Social Care Partnerships. Since then, the Committee’s convenor Jenny Marra MSP has written to the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport to outline their findings from their inquiry into Self-directed Support (SDS). In her letter to the Cabinet Secretary, Shona Robison, Jenny Marra focussed on the main issues inhibiting the successful implementation of SDS across Scotland.
Looking first at the general progress of SDS implementation, while the Committee agreed with Audit Scotland’s findings, from their SDS 2017 Progress Report (this link will take you away from our website), that the intentions of SDS are being delivered in some local authorities, there is slow progression of a transformational change. During their evidence session, COSLA were challenged over the amount of resources required by local authorities to meet the needs of people in their area. Responding in a letter to the Committee (this link will take you away from our website), COSLA’s Chief Officer, John Wood, suggested that there needed to be a modelling exercise with the Scottish Government to analyse the implications for the future funding of social care.
Turning to the more specific issues affecting the roll-out of SDS, Marra addresses the lack of independent information and advocacy, which the ALLIANCE spoke to during the evidence session. Given that the Government announced a new round of funding for the third sector to offer support and information, the Committee advised the Government to consult with stakeholders on distribution of the fund. While the ALLIANCE supports this advice, we feel there is a role for local authorities to increase and improve the information given to people during the assessment process about the support organisations available to them.
The absence of data on SDS outcomes was highlighted by the Committee as a cause for concern and thus prompted the Government to detail their plans to improve monitoring of implementation. Here, the ALLIANCE sees a clear role for the third sector in providing an independent report on the state of SDS roll-out throughout Scotland as has previously been carried out by ourselves and Self Directed Support Scotland.
Perhaps the Committee’s most pressing issues were directed towards the approach taken by local authorities’ frontline staff and their leadership. Particularly, the lack of consistency between local authorities over what individual budgets can be used for was critiqued. In identifying that there is a tendency by some local authorities to be more prescriptive than others over how budgets can be used, the ALLIANCE supports the Committee’s suggestion that the Scottish Government should consider its role in encouraging greater leadership in implementing the intentions of the SDS Act.
Linked to this, is the joint responsibility the Committee believes that COSLA and the Scottish Government should be taking with respect to funding SDS. While the £9.8m of further investment, detailed in a letter to the committee (this link will take you away from our website), is welcomed, the ALLIANCE concurs with the Committee’s concern and believes that there should be a more comprehensive strategy to embed the principles of Self-directed Support across Scotland.