Learning Disabilities, Autism and Neurodivergence (LDAN) Bill: Consultation



Closes 21st April 2024.


Social Work Scotland is the professional body for social work leaders, working closely with our partners to shape policy and practice, and improve the quality and experience of social services. We welcome this opportunity to share our views on the Learning Disabilities, Autism and Neurodivergence Bill and see it as a chance to consider and contribute to the review of the structures that social work and social care professionals work within to deliver the support and protection that people, families and communities are calling for.
In responding to this consultation, we would take the opportunity to highlight the importance of the rights, assets, and relationship-based practice undertaken by social workers – and the application of theories such as systems theory1 that make for a robust assessment of individuals circumstances, assets, and needs. The wellbeing of individuals is impacted on by a myriad of factors, including and not limited to their relationships, social and educational connections, income, housing status and personal history. It is good therefore, to see these things referenced explicitly within the consultation. The balance between a health model and social model of disability is essential if the aspirations noted throughout this consultation are to be realised.

Key Points From Our Response

Workforce Pressures: Our members, who are the leadership in Social Work, have consistently highlighted issues specifically around resources and workforce that will influence the likelihood of successful enactment of the Learning Disabilities, Autism and Neurodivergence Bill. Over the past decade, Social Work Scotland has taken every opportunity available to underline how pressing the need is for investment, paired with reform, across all aspects of social care and social work.

Mandatory Training: linked to the above. To mandate training, Scottish Government and Local Government must first create the conditions that will support the workforce to be freed up to attend learning opportunities. If these conditions do not exist, it is unfair to place the burden of responsibility onto practitioners. We would highlight the recent introduction of the supported year mandatory training for Newly Qualified Social Workers as an example of the need for careful consideration prior to implementation. Early Implementation sites have reported that they have not been resourced to adequately meet these new demands. Many report to having had to seek internal funding from overstretched internal budgets to support implementation. The Workforce are supportive of this work but are concerned about readiness and having adequate resource to allow them to support the required work.
Additionally, the implementation science approach has taught us, through the roll-out of the Scottish Child Interview Training Model, as well as our own self-directed support project, that considering what it will really take to embed and equip people with not only the skills but the resources and confidence to put training into practice and to refine the skill enough to realise change, is a much longer-term and resource-heavy consideration than a one-off session.

Finally, and fundamentally, we are not clear on the requirement of legislation to achieve the stated aims of the Bill and remain convinced that these could be achieved in a timelier and cost-effective manner by means of policy development, and a network of shared learning as opposed to the creation of new legislation.