Accountability and the Implementation of SDS

Accountability and the Implementation of SDS: Complaints, redress, and human rights principles in practice (October 2021)


In Control Scotland and the University of Strathclyde have published new research exploring complaints processes relating to Self-directed Support in Scotland. The aim of the research was to help understand complaints processes within local authorities, routes to potential legal challenge, and barriers to complaints.

There were 3 main findings:

  1. Processes: It was generally clear how to make a complaint, and complaints processes can lead to positive outcomes for people. However the processes themselves are problematic:
    inconsistent, unpredictable and dependent on various factors (geographical location, the person receiving the complaint, and levels of individual awareness).
  2. Legal Support: There is some demand for expertise from within the free legal advice sector, but few solicitors specialise in Self-directed Support, and few advocacy and advice organisations make referrals. Without this support, the prospect of judicially challenging decisions is extremely low.
  3. Human Rights: In addition there is a lack of detailed knowledge of human rights amongst a range of stakeholders, and the relevant legislation that promotes and protects them, although there was some suggestion that framing complaints around human rights appeared to improve outcomes.

These findings show that individuals face barriers at every stage. These include:

  • lack of awareness about complaints options
  • the individual burden of pursuing complaints
  • fear of negative impacts on relationships with local authority staff
  • limited specialist legal advice and legal aid funding
  • and the long timescales involved with judicial challenge, as well as local authority practice of settling complaints

Please click here to access the briefing paper.

You can access the full report by clicking here.

You can also find details of the reports on the In Control website here:

Self Directed Support Scotland

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