17 March 2016


New powers are coming to Scotland. After years of cuts to welfare services these powers present the opportunity to do things differently, even innovatively, by adopting person-centred, human rights-based approaches to policy making based upon the principles of dignity and compassion. Many in the sector believe that by fully committing to self-directed approaches we can achieve these aims by empowering people to make decisions about their support.

Self-directed approaches

People deserve access to support that is personalised to what they need and what they can offer and that enables them to participate in society. Many in the sector believe that the best way to achieve this is to offer personal and flexible services that put people in charge of their own support and contribution and enables people to build on their own capabilities. This approach encourages co-production and enables service users to influence the design and delivery of the services that they use. We would like to see the principles of Self-Directed Support (SDS) expanded into areas such as employment support, health, and welfare to give people a greater say over the services they receive. By adopting this approach we can empower individuals from across society to direct their own support, live more independently and determine their own future.

An example: The self-directed approach to employability

There is a danger that the Scottish approach to new powers over employability could replicate the problems and barriers of existing models by focusing almost exclusively on commissioning support for people. Scotland needs an employability strategy that looks beyond solely getting people into jobs and instead enables people to realise their contribution to society based on their unique offer. This strategy should utilise self-directed and personalised approaches to the design and delivery of employability services, based on interventions that work best for people instead of what’s best for the support providers. They should:

  • Be based on a participatory approach
  • Offer a personal budget approach
  • Target support at those who are most in need or those who most need support.

As various inquiries look into how to use new powers we believe that there is a significant opportunity to break away from current practice and improve the employability landscape, let’s seize it.


New powers coming to Scotland offer an opportunity to breakaway from current practice and create modern services. We believe that these services should be person-centred and self-directed. We recognise the challenges and opportunities the shift towards self-directed approaches to policy making represents. Many in our sector welcome the opportunity to engage in this process so that together we can ensure that service users are engaged in the development of the person-centred, self-directed services of the future.

Sheghley Ogilvie
Public Affairs Officer
Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations,
Mansfield Traquair Centre,
15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh EH3 6BB
Email: sheghley.ogilvie@scvo.org.uk
Tel: 0131 556 3882
Web: www.scvo.org.uk

About us

The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is the national body representing the third sector. There are over 45,000 voluntary organisations in Scotland involving around 138,000 paid staff and approximately 1.3 million volunteers. The sector manages an income of £4.9 billion. SCVO works in partnership with the third sector in Scotland to advance our shared values and interests. We have over 1,600 members who range from individuals and grassroots groups, to Scotland-wide organisations and intermediary bodies.
As the only inclusive representative umbrella organisation for the sector SCVO:
•has the largest Scotland-wide membership from the sector – our 1,600 members include charities, community groups, social enterprises and voluntary organisations of all shapes and sizes
•our governance and membership structures are democratic and accountable – with an elected board and policy committee from the sector, we are managed by the sector, for the sector
•brings together organisations and networks connecting across the whole of Scotland
•SCVO works to support people to take voluntary action to help themselves and others, and to bring about social change.

Further details about SCVO can be found at www.scvo.org.uk.