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Adult Disability Payment: consultation analysis

Our analysis of responses to the consultation on Adult Disability Payment regulations undertaken between 21 December 2020 and 15 March 2021.


Making of Applications and Payments

Regulations 33-37 outline the weekly payment rates for Adult Disability Payment, including the standard and enhanced rates for both the daily living and mobility components. They also outline any deductions required as a result of people receiving the Constant Attendance Allowance. In addition, these regulations set out the rules around who can receive the payment, the date of application/when entitlement should be taken to begin, and defines the period covered by an application. They also detail the timing of the payments, and the need for continuing eligibility.

Most respondents (83%) who answered the closed element of the question agreed that these regulations reflected their policy intent.

Number of Respondents % of Respondents Valid %
Yes 82 65% 83%
No 8 6% 8%
Don't know 9 7% 9%
Missing 28 22% -
Total 127 100% 100%

Several elements of these regulations were welcomed, including that:

  • the application was recognised and considered as actioned from the date it was received;
  • where entitlement was expected to be met soon, the application would be actioned and not denied due to non-entitlement;
  • there would be flexibility in decisions around when payments start;
  • the proposal to pay those in receipt of Adult Disability Payment under the special rules for terminal illness was weekly in advance;
  • there was a continuing eligibility clause and no set end date for payments;
  • individuals would continue to receive payments during appeals or reconsiderations;
  • there was an eight-week window for completion of the application form; and
  • there would be a range of application channels including online, paper and face-to-face applications, as well as a local delivery service that would provide support and information to clients and stakeholders at a community level (although it was suggested that specific support for veterans could be provided by mirroring the Department for Work and Pensions Armed Forces Champion Network).

However, several respondents were concerned about the four-weekly nature of the payments as it was felt this could make financial management more difficult for people. One suggested that monthly payments which fall on the same date each month would be more beneficial, while two suggested that fortnightly payments should be considered. Others were against weekly payments which were considered to be too insecure.

Some respondents felt that the payment rates were not high enough to cover the costs of living with a disability or health condition, or the costs of purchasing care services, with respondents suggesting that the rates needed to be increased. Two respondents also questioned why the rates had been reduced from those available via Personal Independence Payment. They noted the stated rates would represent a reduction of £52 or £78 per year for a person in receipt of the standard rate or enhanced rate of the daily living component. Others, however, highlighted the rates referenced were out of date and needed to be updated to the current Personal Independence Payment levels:

"The rates should reflect reality, not some arbitrary number that seems to have been pulled out of a hat." (Individual)

It was also noted that the rates would need to be subject to annual uplifts to account for the rising cost of living and inflation. However, one organisation suggested this may be difficult if the rates were included in the regulations rather than as a separate schedule. One organisation suggested an independent body/committee should be set up to recommend the level of payment that disability and other benefits should be set at in Scotland.

While a few were happy to see the provision for the payment to be made to a welfare/financial guardian and direct to service providers in the case of Motability leases, others were concerned about the possibility for applicants to suffer financial abuse. It was considered important to have independent advocates and specialist advisors throughout the application process to mitigate this risk. There was concern that the current provision of disability assistance carried an element of risk and that Adult Disability Payment regulations did not adequately mitigate this risk:

"I have seen time and time again, and acted as advocate on more than one occasion to assist young people take back control of their payment from family… In many cases children with good mental capacity are simply not aware the payment is theirs." (Individual)

A few also noted that significant delays were currently experienced in the processing of Personal Independence Payment applications with long gaps in achieving increased entitlements. It was hoped that this could be avoided under the new system.

Several respondents also discussed the issue of continuing eligibility, 'light touch' reviews, and the use of indefinite awards. A few sought further information about how decisions of continuing eligibility would be made, details on what a 'light touch' review would involve, and commitments for Social Security Scotland to provide clear justifications for reducing awards following 'light touch' reviews. One organisation also suggested that there should be flexibility built in to 'light touch' reviews, so that these could happen earlier than the five-year review point where an applicant's condition had changed. Similarly, another sought clarity on how an applicant would be able to submit changes to the initial application at a later stage if their circumstances changed.

Indefinite awards would be welcomed, and were expected to provide stability and financial certainty for adults with degenerative conditions, or who have conditions that will not improve. It was also stressed that any indefinite/long-term awards already granted through Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payment should be honoured when transferring to Adult Disability Payment, and that explicit confirmation of this would be welcomed from Social Security Scotland:

"There are blind and partially sighted people… who have no prospect of recovering their sight or of their visual impairment improving... We believe it is not appropriate or necessary for reviews to be undertaken at any point in such circumstances, and agree with a number of other organisations who have supported the case for life-long awards and the removal of reviews where the individual's condition will not change." (Disabled People's Organisation)

Indeed, several comments were provided throughout the consultation which stressed the importance of implementing long-term/life-long awards and 'light touch' review periods, and sought reassurances that these would be included in the regulations in order to protect such provision. This included making such provisions in general, as well as ensuring that 'light touch' reviews for those aged over 65 (as planned by the Department for Work and Pensions) would be mirrored in the Scottish system:

"We are disappointed that the draft regulations themselves don't include any reference to review periods of 5-10 years… We believe the draft regulations should be amended to include longer term reviews (5-10 years), so they are a matter of law. If this is not done any future administration could introduce shorter awards without any parliamentary process of scrutiny." (Third Sector Organisation)

Event attendees were separately asked for their views on reviews happening five to ten years after an award is made for those whose condition or disability is unlikely to change, as well as their views on whether people should get indefinite awards. For the most part, stakeholders felt that routine reviews would give applicants and their families/carers more stability knowing roughly when their review would take place. Five to ten years was seen as a reasonable time period to accommodate changing conditions - having a shorter review date may cause unnecessary concern and anxiety. It was expressed that more clarity could however be provided around opportunities for people to re-apply or have an earlier review, if their condition worsens quickly.

Like some of the consultation respondents, event delegates also felt that those with life-long conditions/disabilities should not be reviewed or reassessed (and should also not be subject to 'light touch' reviews), and that indefinite awards were appropriate in these cases.

Overall, the new payment was seen as a good opportunity to change the culture of reviews and to reflect them in a more positive light. Social Security Scotland should make clear that reviews are about supporting clients and ensuring that they are getting the highest award they can, it was felt, rather than trying to take their award away from them.

Contact

Email: Matthew.Duff@gov.scot

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