Carer Benefits Advisory Group minutes: February 2024

Minutes from the meeting of the Carer Benefit Advisory Group on 8 February 2024.

Attendees and apologies


  • Angela Toal, Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG)
  • Anne Baldock, One Parent Families Scotland
  • Caitlin Forsyth, Rebecca Darge, Scottish Government Minimum Income Guarantee Policy
  • Elaine Garrick, Sharon McGuire, Scottish Government Carers Policy
  • Joe McCready, Carers Scotland
  • Michelle Gallacher, Social Security Scotland Communications
  • Oonagh Fraser, Social Security Analysis, Forecasting and Evaluation Unit, Scottish Government 
  • Paul Traynor, Carers Trust (Chair)
  • Salena Begley MBE, Family Fund
  • Stephanie Miller, Citizens Advice Scotland
  • Thomas Mulvey, Marie Curie
  • Anna Gavienas, Lynn Shaw, Dawn Kane, Hana Wilde, Jane Sterry, Kate Thomson-McDermott, Sohel Ahmed, Sarah Wotton, Victoria Boal (Secretariat), Scottish Government Carer Benefits Policy


  • Fiona Collie, Carers Scotland
  • Becky Duff, Carers Trust
  • Claire Cairns, Coalition of Carers
  • David Anderson, Social Security Scotland Research
  • Ellie Wagstaff, Marie Curie
  • James Calder, Maggie Chiwanza, Minority Ethnic Carers of People Project (MECOPP)
  • Joanne Finlay, Improving Social Care Support Standards and Quality, Scottish Government
  • John Cunningham, Convention of Scottish Local Authorities 
  • Peter Stapleton, Scottish Government Carers Policy

Items and actions

Welcome and Minimum Income Guarantee 

Minimum Income Guarantee

The chair introduced the item on the Minimum Income Guarantee (MIG) by providing a bit of background to the policy:

  • the Scottish Government accepted the Social Renewal Advisory Group’s recommendation to model a minimum income guarantee for unpaid carers and are working with the Minimum Income Guarantee Expert Group (‘the Expert Group’) to consider how unpaid carers might be included in the development of the Group’s report and its recommendations
  • a MIG is an assurance that no one will fall below a set income level that would allow them to live a dignified life. It could potentially be tailored for different groups who face higher costs. 
  • the Secretariat that supports the work of the Expert Group are currently establishing an evidence base to support the modelling of a minimum income guarantee for unpaid carers to understand how it could potentially be tailored to meet their needs
  • colleagues had been sent a brief in advance to consider some questions prior to today’s discussions

Caitlin Forsyth from the Expert Group’s Secretariat began by providing some detail on the background to MIG policy and the structure and processes of the Expert Group, noting that Fiona Collie is member of the Expert Group as well as CBAG. Catilin then gave a helpful presentation on the work of the Expert Group to date and how unpaid carers could be included. Members highlighted that carers experience a myriad of higher costs associated with providing their caring role such as energy costs, transport costs etc. It was noted that costs can be particularly high when caring for someone with a terminal illness.  CBAG members were keen to understand how a MIG could take these costs into consideration and potentially better support carers with these additional costs, while factoring in the diverse experiences of Scottish carers.  It was suggested by CBAG members, that a MIG should factor in ‘actual’ costs, as opposed to standard/ average costs. For example – those caring for more than one person will likely face higher costs, or if a cared for person required a taxi due to sensory issues or being immune suppressed, they should be paid more than someone who was able to travel by bus.

Members queried whether intersectionality had been taken into account within the modelling – e.g. a disabled carer may face a greater financial detriment compared to another unpaid carer. Caitlin confirmed that there had been work carried out on intersectionality, and this will continue to be a consideration though there may be some challenges with availability of data and sample sizes. Caitlin reassured members that this is an area that they are continuing to look at closely and would welcome members sharing any data which would help with these considerations. Members agreed to provide Caitlin with evidence on carers’ experiences that would be relevant and noted they would be happy to support the Expert Group’s work going forward. Caitlin thanked members and said she would be in touch. She concluded by noting that the Expert Group’s final report is due in Autumn 2024, which then goes to the Scottish Government for a formal response.


  • members to share details of any additional costs incurred for caring and any other relevant information and evidence, including on intersectionality, with the Secretariat
  • the Secretariat to provide an update on the Expert Group’s work at a future CBAG meeting


Minutes from the October 2023 meeting were agreed by members. 

Carer benefit policy officials provided a verbal update on actions sitting with them from the previous meeting, and committed to follow up in writing on out-standing queries with Social Security Scotland in due course. 

The Chair provided an update on an action sitting with him, for the Carers Trust, by confirming that they had now conducted a session on the experiences of older adult carers, which was attended by 65 attendees, including SG carer benefits policy officials.

Officials from Carers Policy provided an update on their ongoing work to review National Carer Strategy implementation, following the completion of it’s first year. It was highlighted that this has progressed broadly well and the priorities for year two are now being determined, as well as how these will be measured. Officials will share these with members.

December Equalities meeting

Carer benefit officials thanked all those that had attended the December’s Equalities event and reflected that it had gone well. A brief summary of the topics covered was provided and Members were asked to provide feedback if they had not already, to help inform the next event.


  • CBAG Secretary to send a reminder email regarding the Equalities event to attendees to gather feedback

Priority Improvements Discussion

Officials presented on the current status of the priority improvements to Carer Support Payment and gave an overview of the improvements under consideration as outlined in the Scottish Government Consultation response.

Officials also confirmed that they are engaging with Social Security Scotland to consider improvements to Young Carer Grant, including extending eligibility to 19 year olds to address the entitlement gap with Carer Support Payment for 19 year olds in non-advanced education.  Members raised concerns about the education rules for Carer Support Payment, and what counts as ‘full time’ education. Officials agreed to share education guidance to clarify this. They also noted members wider concerns on the education restriction and noted that as part of their wider planning on carer benefits evaluation they were considering how best to take forward the recommendation of the Scottish Commission on Social Security to undertake further research on education and access to benefits.

Officials gave an overview of the timetable for priority changes that could be delivered in this Parliamentary term and what was likely to be in scope for the next Parliamentary term. Officials agreed to continue to provide regular updates on their plans for evaluating and improving carer benefits.


  • SG Carer benefits policy colleagues to share guidance on education restrictions for Carer Support Payment
  • SG Carer benefits policy colleagues to come back to CBAG to share outline plans for carer benefit evaluation at the next meeting

Young Carer’s Action Day

The Chair provided an update from Carers Trust on Young Carer’s Action Day, which will take place on the 13th of March. The theme is ‘Fairer Futures for Young Carers’. Paul noted plans for a  UK wide Young Carers Covenant to be launched on the 14th of March. This will be broadly mirrored on the Commonwealth Young Carers Charter. Paul advised that he would keep in touch with members through regular channels regarding involvement and social media packages.

Work Plan and Membership

Officials talked through an outline workplan for the next year of CBAG meetings, and it was agreed that the work plan will be developed and circulated with members for comment ahead of tabling the plan for agreement at the next meeting. The Chair reminded members of the importance of attending meetings or sending a proxy whenever possible to ensure we all get the most from the meetings. The Chair asked if members felt there were any gaps in membership and the potential to invite a Carer Centre Manager onto the group was discussed.


  • CBAG Secretary to Circulate Work Plan and placeholder meetings for the remainder of 2024, inviting any feedback from members
  • SG care benefit officials to explore contacting and asking a Carer Centre Manager to join the group

There were no items under any other business. Members thanked Paul for his expert and engaging chairing of the meeting.

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