State-led diversity of choice or market control? : social enterprise services for older people and SDS in Scotland.

Fiona Henderson, Geoff Whittam

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


In the UK, a shift from the state’s provision of services in social care has occurred which has been described as the social enterprization of welfare systems (Sepulveda, 2015). The current marketization of social care mirrors the earlier efficiency drive of New Public Management (NPM) which, rather than being evidence-led, was constructed on the assumed value of proficiency at the expense of quality and resilience (Henderson et al, 2018; Jørgensen & Anderson, 2011).Support for social enterprise as an organisational model provides Scottish politicians with an alternative to private enterprise when replacing state delivered services with open market alternatives. This political support has been translated into a 10-year Government-led Social Enterprise Strategy (Scottish Government, 2016a). Social policies in Scotland which influence older people’s social care are changing. The Public Bodies (Joint Working) Act 2014 has integrated NHS and local authority social services, while the Social Care (Self-directed Support (SDS)) (Scotland) Act 2013 empowers citizens to take control over their own care budgets. However evidence is emerging that suggests both Acts are yet to be effective (Audit Scotland, 2017). The SDS Act enshrines citizen-led choice and control over budget decisions but has suffered poor uptake with wide variations in adoption across Scottish regions (Scottish Government, 2016b). Yet there is currently no academic evidence evaluating the impact of regional differences and particularly rurality on self-directed care in Scotland.Social enterprises in Scotland have been proactively adapting their services and commercial activities to make their offering more sustainable in this new SDS-driven market (Henderson et. al., 2017). This paper presents early results from research examining the state’s role in the influencing the social enterprise and third sector market delivering social care for older citizen budget holders in Scotland. Data was collected through interviews with citizen budget holders, strategic national and regional stakeholders and both rural and urban social enterprise providers. An analysis of relevant grey literature from public bodies and activist-led third sector organisations offered further insight into emerging market tensions. Early results suggest the implementation of SDS has led to difficult market conditions for social enterprises as they invest to exploit opportunities but are impacted by the uneven attempts of regional authorities to maintain control of the local market. The findings suggest greater state involvement in regulating the social care market under citizen budgeting, contrary to neoliberal ideology and undermining the SDS policy’s principles of devolving power over choice and control to the citizen.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - Apr 2018


  • social enterprise
  • older adults
  • SDS Act

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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