In January 2015, we published a short report called “The Start” looking at the first 6 months of Self Directed Support and what was being planned. It found a hesitant approach that showed that there had been few real developments in SDS. We said that when the social care statistics were published in late 2015, we would have a better national picture of how SDS was developing.
There was a total of 6,000 people on Direct Payments in 2013-14 before the introduction of SDS . In 2014-15 this would need to rise to 6,600 just to keep up the momentum of development.
The figures have now been published. And the number of people with Direct Payments has risen but ONLY to 6,450. This is the first indication that the introduction of the Self Directed Support Act may not have increased user choice in control.
In fact further analysis shows that in a range of local authorities things have got worse. In 11 local authorities the numbers of people receiving Direct Payments actually fell.
Aberdeenshire. reduction of 100.
East Lothian. reduction of 120.
Falkirk. reduction of 20.
Glasgow City. reduction of 60.
Inverclyde. reduction of 20.
Midlothian. reduction of 10.
Renfrewshire. reduction of 20.
Scottish Borders. reduction of 140.
Shetland Islands. reduction of 10.
South Ayrshire. reduction of 10.
South Lanarkshire. reduction of 10.
In four other local authorities (Argyll & Bute, Dundee, North Lanarkshire and Orkney Islands) the figures flat lined – the same number received Direct Payments in both years.
Figures on the other SDS options may be published early next year. Some information has been published in council reports and this reflect the mixed picture that we have found above Most councils show slow progress. For example, Aberdeen Council reported that no body had taken up Option 2 in the first 12 months. South Lanarkshire Council reports that in 18 months only 1 person in the area has taken up Option 2. Even Dumfries and Galloway who saw a big increase in uptake of Direct Payments had no one on Option 2 by December 2015.
A couple broke the trend with both Angus (82 people on Option 2) and Moray (27 people on option 2) making headway.
It may be claimed that people are still exercising choice when they choose Option 3, where they ask the local authority to organise services for them. Questions would have to be asked if a policy designed to increase independence and choice resulted in less choice and more dependence on local councils to arrange services. So far, the jury is still out on SDS and we will look forward to the publication of more detailed SDS information next year.