Carer Benefits Advisory Group minutes: December 2016

Minutes of the meeting of the Carer Benefits Advisory Group which took place on 8 December 2016.

Attendees and apologies


  • Ellen Searle, Scottish Government (Chair)
  • Dawn Abell, Scottish Government
  • Fiona Collie, Carers Scotland
  • Heather Noller, Carers Trust
  • Suzanne Munday, MECOPP
  • Peggy Winford, Scottish Government Carers Branch
  • Nicola Dickie, COSLA
  • Trish Brady-Campbell, Scottish Government
  • Alison Leighton, Scottish Government
  • Liz Davidson, Scottish Government


  • Roisin Connolly, Highland Carers Centre
  • Paul Traynor, Carers Trust
  • Carole Jones, Social Work

Items and actions

Minutes of previous meeting

1. No comments were received from members and the minutes were agreed. David Formstone, Social Work Scotland retired on 6/12/16 and a replacement is being sought.

Update on wider context

2. Ministers have announced they are setting up a Disability and Carer’s Expert Advisory Group. The membership, Chair and the groups remit has still to be signed off and discussions are ongoing with the Minister.

3. Recruitment for the experience panels commences in the new year and the expectation is that panels will be up and running in spring. A random sample of benefit recipients will be sent out invitations to join by mail via DWP and the rest will be by open recruitment.

Carers Allowance – stopping and starting rules – proposals for change (paper CBAG 11/2016)

4. The working group had met a total of three times since August and at the last meeting identified areas for change. Each rule was weighted against the evidence for change. Priorities were 1) Extend Carer Benefit from 8 to 12 weeks following the death of the cared for person 2) Consider changing the 4 week hospital rule (adults) to the same as for children.

5. The working group Chair reported that there was a lack of strong evidence to evidence a change of the rules around residential care or breaks in care, although the general feeling of the group was that the rule that you had to care for 22 weeks out of 26 weeks before having a break from care needed to be reviewed.

6. Some CBAG members still felt that the proposal to change to 12 weeks following death was still too short especially if the person had been caring for a long period of time. Members agreed that further evidence would be required to further support any change and that there had been no financial costing’s undertaken. Under the Carers Act support stops immediately when the cared for person dies.

7. All the options for change on stopping and starting the benefit will be looked at in the round alongside other areas for change i.e., eligibility criteria, earnings threshold and further education rules.

Developing a Scottish Carer Benefit (paper 12/2016)

8. The group split into two to reconsider the priorities, originally set out in April 2016, in light of the consultation responses. They looked at whether there were new options as a result or whether some the original options should be disregarded or modified. The groups came back with very similar priorities a) earnings threshold b) full-time study and the links to other benefits. The exercise will be written up and circulated.

9. The Scottish Government will now look at the top 2 or 3 areas and undertake a deep dive to obtain further evidence. Workshops will be held in spring to further explore the issues/options.

Working Groups – implications for policy development

10. The evidence review working group has met twice, the terms of reference updated and the review extended. Evidence sources and contacts have been identified with two social researchers now in place and on schedule to produce a report by the end of January. The next meeting of the group is due to be held by early February.

11. A productive first meeting of the Young Carers Allowance working group had been held on 9/11/16. The terms of reference were agreed and the group considered the support currently in place for young carers alongside the dovetailing with other young people’s services. The group were focussing on short breaks, concessionary travel and education for the 18-24 year old age group. The group will meet again in January.

Next steps

12. The meeting of the advisory group in January is no longer being held. The next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday 8 March 2017 at 10 am in St Andrews House, Edinburgh.


  • new member to be sought from social work – Nicola Dickie to give contact names to SG
  • write up from options exercise to be circulated – SG
  • details of absence from home rule to be circulated – Nicola Dickie, COSLA
  • Liz Saddler, Bereavement Team to be asked on to the Payment Rules group – SG
  • Send out topics for workshops in spring – SG


Email: Ellen Searle

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