Carer Benefits Advisory Group minutes: January 2018

Minutes of the meeting of the Carer Benefits Advisory Group, which took place on 17 January 2018.

Attendees and apologies


  • Ellen Searle, Scottish Government, Social Security Policy, Chair
  • Fiona Collie, Carers Scotland
  • Beth Hall, Robert McGregor, CoSLA
  • Heather Noller, Carer’s Trust
  • Shirley Morris, VOCAL
  • Suzanne Munday, MECOPP
  • Jane Sterry, Paul Traynor, Scottish Government, Social Security Policy
  • Kevin Fallon, Scottish Government, Carers Policy (for Peggy Winford)
  • Anita Popplestone, Rab Mackay, Lesley Clancy, Scottish Government Communications and Delivery


  • Andrew Gillies, Social Work Scotland
  • Kevin Hurst, Falkirk Council
  • Louise Morgan, Carers Trust
  • Roisin Connolly, Highland Carer Centre
  • Trish Brady-Campbell, Scottish Government Analysts

Items and actions

Minutes of previous meeting

The chair noted that the minutes from the previous meeting had been agreed by correspondence and were now available online.

In reviewing action points from the previous meeting, the chair updated the group that the Health and Social Care Integration Managers network had agreed to nominate a CBAG representative and he or she would attend the next meeting. Also, a CBAG Yammer group had been established to share information on social security and carers in a more easily manageable and digestible way.

The Carers Scotland representative (who is also a member of the Disability and Carer Benefits Expert Advisory Group (DCBEAG)) agreed to report back on the action from the previous meeting to feed the importance of local authority involvement into DCBEAG.

Members’ views were sought on whether they wished to continue to participate in workshops on cross-cutting areas of social security policy. It was agreed that they did, and that these should include representation from a range of Scottish Government officials beyond social security.


  • Carers Scotland to feed member views on local authority involvement to DCBEAG
  • Scottish Government Secretariat to arrange dates for future workshops on operational issues incorporating wider Scottish Government officials.

Updates (CBAG1/2018)

Members noted the Updates paper.

The Carers Policy lead provided an update on progress with the Carers Act and Carers Charter, noting that Regulations and Impact Assessments were in their final stages, Comms plans were progressing for pre and post 01 April (first day of the Act implementation), that a new specification for carer data in the census has been published, and that officials would be meeting with carer stakeholders on the Carers Charter.

Carer’s Scotland updated the group on the work of the Disability and Carer Benefits Expert Advisory Group (DACBEAG). The group has published advice to Ministers on independent scrutiny in social security. The group’s next meeting on 1 February will look at the Social Security Bill.

Carer Benefits – Equality Considerations (CBAG 2/2018)

MECCOP facilitated a discussion on equality considerations. In addition to the issues highlighted in the paper, members made the following points:

  • Scottish Government communications around carer benefits – and the upcoming Carer’s Allowance Supplement – need to consider the communications needs of groups of carers with one or more protected characteristics to ensure advice and information reaches the full range of carers and is presented in an accessible way
  • Carers for same sex partners can have difficulty being recognised for their role, being assumed to be a sibling for example
  • Important to consider dual equalities issues experiences, for example of disabled carers
  • For people in BME communities, translated material may not resolve access issues, as there may be literacy issues
  • Gypsy/traveller carers may be less likely to have bank accounts and have a preference for non written communication
  • A reliance on the use of digital technology can present a particular barrier to older carers and particularly older carers from minority ethnic communities; preference for face to face for some populations
  • Recruitment from diverse communities in the development of the new social security agency and local advice provision should be considered
  • Effective local advice provision is crucial, but the infrastructure may not always meet needs, for example many local authorities have interpreters but CABx do not
  • More research is needed on the demographics of carers in Scotland to establish a baseline of information
  • The gendered impact of caring on women was cited an issue


  • Scottish Government analysts to consider how to take equalities issues into account that will not be covered through existing Experience Panels, and check whether DWP gather ethnicity information
  • Scottish Government to reflect the highlighted issues in the Equality Impact Assessment for Carer’s Allowance Supplement and other Scottish carer benefits.

CAS Communications

Members of the Social Security Communications and Engagement Team provided an overview of the approach to communications and engagement planning within the Social Security programme. The group were invited to identify the key messages and questions that carers would seek answers to, when further information on qualifying dates for Carers Allowance Supplement is to published. Members highlighted the following issues:

  • Alongside the essential practical information concerning eligibility, payment processes and ongoing payment of Carer’s Allowance by DWP, it would be important to incorporate messages around how the Agency will do things differently, underpinned by a culture of dignity and respect.
  • It would be vital to provide reassurance that CAS would not impact on other benefits
  • In respect of audience identification, there was a need to encompass a wide range of public sector frontline services, particularly local authority and NHS staff
  • Different levels of communication would need to be targeted at the different audiences, with key messages and high level information pushed out to carers and the organisations that support them, with the more detailed information made accessible to those that might wish to follow up on certain aspects
  • In identifying the best channels to reach the key audience, carers themselves, members highlighted the importance of easily accessible online information, Agency outreach, call handling, and social media platforms, drawing on the channels of CBAG member organisations, partners, third sector interfaces and wider public sector networks, including local authority comms, Community Planning Partnerships, and Health and Social Care Partnerships.


  • Scottish Government Comms and Engagement officials to collate these outputs and circulate to members
  • Members to provide details of stakeholder channels for CAS communications

Carer Benefits Regulations

Scottish Government officials presented a paper with an outline of what would be covered in the carer benefits regulations. Members raised the following points:

  • There was a need to consider proposals for short term assistance for carers in the Social Security Bill, and how this would impact on Carer’s Allowance when the cared for person went into hospital
  • The use of the wording ‘regular and substantial’ in the Social Security Bill, and the approach to residency in respect of cross border relationships, differed from the approaches in the Carers Act.

Action: Scottish Government policy officials to consider these points and come back to the Group on draft regulations at a future meeting.

CAS practitioner testing

It was agreed that a practitioner group would be set up to similar to that established for Universal Credit flexibilities, to test out of the components of delivery arrangements for CAS.

Action: Scottish Government to set up CAS practitioner group


There was no Other Business.

What went well, even better if...

It was noted that the Updates Paper proposed at the previous meeting worked well.

There were no other comments.


Action Who Date
1. Feed members views on local authority involvement to DCBEAG Carers Scotland By next meeting
2. Arrange dates for future workshops on operational issues incorporating wider SG officials SG Secretariat By February
3. To report back on equalities issues into account that will not be covered through Experience Panels SG Analysts By next meeting
4. Check whether DWP gather ethnicity information SG Analysts By next meeting
5. Reflect issues highlighted by members in the Equality Impact Assessment for Carer’s Allowance Supplement and other Scottish carer benefits SG Policy By next meeting
6. Collate and circulate member input on communications and incorporate into the CAS Communications Plan SG Comms & Engagement By next meeting
7. Provide details of stakeholder channels for CAS communications External members By 23 January
8. Report back to members on points made on carer benefits regulations SG Policy By next meeting
9. Establish practitioner group to run test out CAS approach SG Policy By next meeting


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