Publication - minutes

Carer Benefit Advisory Group minutes: April 2018

Published: 21 May 2018
Date of meeting: 4 Apr 2018
Location: St Andrew's House, Edinburgh
Minutes of the meeting of the Carer Benefit Advisory Group, which took place on 4 April 2018.
Published:
21 May 2018
Carer Benefit Advisory Group minutes: April 2018

Attendees and apologies

Present

  • Jane Sterry, Scottish Government, Acting Chair
  • Paul Traynor, Scottish Government
  • Rab Mackay, Scottish Government
  • Peggy Winford, Scottish Government
  • Shirley Morris, Vocal
  • Roisin Connolly, Highland Carers Centre
  • Fiona Collie, Carers Scotland
  • Heather Noller, Carers Trust
  • Catherine Henry, Scottish Government
  • Davie Taggart, Scottish Government

Apologies

  • Suzanne Munday, MECOPP
  • Fiona McCulloch, Health and Social Care Integration Managers Network
  • Vana Anastasiadou, Scottish Government
  • Robert McGregor, CoSLA
  • Beth Hall, CoSLA
  • Kevin Hurst, Falkirk Council
  • Hazel Stewart, Scottish Government
  • David Ward, Scottish Government
  • Ellen Searle, Scottish Government
  • Andrew Gillies, Social Work Scotland

Items and actions

Minutes of previous meeting

1. The chair thanked members for attending and made them aware that evaluation of carer benefits would now be discussed at the next meeting in June. The chair also noted that minutes from the previous meeting were agreed via correspondence and had been published on the Scottish Government’s website.

2. Members were updated on progress against the previous meeting’s agreed actions. Dates for the final operational policy workshop on residency and the Charter will be provided when available. Scottish Government analysts are looking into the issues raised regarding Department for Work and Pensions’ (DWP) diversity monitoring.

3. It was noted that the feedback from the group on Carer’s Allowance Supplement (CAS) communications has been incorporated into the communications and engagement approach for CAS, which was discussed at the Short-life Practitioner Group on CAS on 15 March.

4. Scottish Government officials provided an update on points raised at the previous meeting in relation to carers assistance regulations. Issues around the payment of short term assistance and the impact on Carer’s Allowance will be considered and addressed through these regulations. The use of the wording ‘regular and substantial’ will remain in relation to carer benefits but regulations will define what this means in practice. Eligibility for carer benefits will remain based on the residency of the carer, and not the cared for person. This issue was raised during Stage 2 of the Social Security Bill but the alternative would have created gaps in support for carers across the UK due to the approach taken by DWP.
5. Amendments to the Social Security Bill in relation to the definition of terminal illness were raised. Scottish Government officials confirmed that discussions were ongoing on this issue ahead of Stage 3 of the Bill process and that any impact on carers assistance would be considered as necessary.

Actions:

  • session on evaluation to be included in June CBAG meeting
  • Scottish Government Secretariat to inform members of the date for the residency and Charter workshop once set
  • Scottish Government analysts to provide information on DWP diversity monitoring
  • SG policy to provide an update on terminal illness provisions in the Social Security (Scotland) Bill at the next meeting

Updates

6. It was reported by the Carers Scotland representative that at the CAS practitioner group there were interesting discussions surrounding the communications that will be required to meet carers’ needs and advisors’ needs. The complexity of Carer’s Allowance means that guidance and information for advisors will need to be detailed but communications for carers need to be kept simple.

7. It was also noted that a Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA) is being carried out for Carer’s Allowance Supplement. Carers Scotland asked whether DWP will be contacting Carer’s Allowance recipients in Scotland regarding the need for information to be shared with Scottish Government. SG officials advised that the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) coming into force at the end of May is having an impact on this. Officials are working with DWP and will provide an update in due course.

Actions:

  • Scottish Government to send note and update from the CAS practitioner group meeting
  • Scottish Government to get an update from DWP on data protection and share with members when available

Disability and Carer Benefit Expert Advisory Group

8. The Carers Scotland representative, who is also a member of the Disability and Carer Benefit Expert Advisory Group (DACBEAG) updated CBAG members on the work of this group.

9. The group has been in place since April 2017 and has been advising on the Social Security (Scotland) Bill, and independent scrutiny in particular. DACBEAG also has separate workstreams, including on CAS, the Charter and assessments for disability benefits. Members were updated in more detail on the work on independent scrutiny and a paper on this is available on the Scottish Government website.

10. It was also noted that the group hosted a seminar on Dignity and Respect, and that the Ill Health and Disability Stakeholder Reference Group has also met with DACBEAG and provided a paper on entitlement.

11. DACBEAG have also worked closely with Social Security Programme Management and Delivery on issues like IT, the agency and recruitment, including how to make agency recruitment and employment accessible to carers and people with disabilities.

12. Members questioned if information from the Experience Panels is fed into the DACBEAG. Carers Scotland advised that information from Experience Panels is considered by the group and will continue to be in future. In addition, the group may in future recommend questions to be put to the Panels. DACBEAG are also working with Scottish Government and third sector organisations to ensure the views of seldom heard groups and those who may not wish to take part in Experience Panels are brought into work on social security.

13. It was also noted that papers and discussions from DACBEAG can be found on the Scottish Government’s website.

Action:

  • Carers Scotland to provide updates on the work of DACBEAG for future CBAG meetings.

Carers of more than one person

14. Scottish Government officials presented a paper on proposals put forward during Stage 2 of the Social Security (Scotland) Bill relating to carers of more than one person. Amendments to the Bill were withdrawn as the issues will be considered as part of the development of carers assistance regulations. Members’ views were sought on the proposals, following discussions at earlier CBAG meetings around options for future changes to carer benefits.

15. The group split into two subgroups to discuss the proposals – the ability to aggregate hours spent caring for multiple people to reach the 35 hour caring requirement, and making additional payments to carers of more than one person.

16. It was highlighted that the ability to aggregate multiple caring roles may be beneficial as more people move on to Universal Credit (UC) as the work requirements and other rules surrounding UC may mean people in this situation may miss out on the Carer Element of UC and Carer’s Allowance under current rules. Members were keen to know what evidence may be available on the volumes of carers who were taking up the Carer Element of UC. It was also highlighted by members that this proposal would be of particular help to sandwich carers (those caring for a disabled child and one or more disabled adults), and that in some cases they have spoken to carers who look after four or more people.

17. In relation to the additional payment to those caring over 35 hours for more than one person, it was noted by members that this would also be of particular help to sandwich carers, who would not be covered by the current Scottish Government commitment on the additional payment for carers of more than one disabled child. It was also highlighted that people do not choose to be a carer but that due to circumstances become one, and that this should be reflected in carer benefits.

18. Officials committed to feedback the points made in discussions as work continues to develop carers assistance regulations.

Actions:

  • Scottish Government to investigate data on UC Carer Element take-up in areas of Scotland where UC has been rolled-out and feedback to members
  • SG Policy to feedback points made on more than one cared for person as part of work to develop carers assistance regulations

Evaluation of Scottish carer benefits

19. This item will be discussed at the next meeting of the group.

AOB

20. Scottish Government will looking at arrangements which will need to be in place for future carer benefits around disregards and passporting of other benefits and is seeking volunteers from the group to be part of this work. The VOCAL representative volunteered and the offer will be circulated with wider members who were unable to attend.

Action:

  • Chair to contact wider members of the group about the work on disregards and passporting

What went well, even better if…

21. Members highlighted a need for better ways to take part in future meetings without attending in person.

Actions:

  • Scottish Government Secretariat to investigate better remote access options for future CBAG and CAS practitioner group meetings

Contact

Email: ceu@gov.scot
Telephone: 0300 244 4000

Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road
Edinburgh
EH1 3DG