Publication - Minutes

Carer Benefits Advisory Group minutes: June 2021

Published: 13 Sep 2021
Date of meeting: 3 Jun 2021
Location: Online

Minutes of the meeting of the Carer Benefits Advisory Group, held on 3 June 2021.

Published:
13 Sep 2021
Carer Benefits Advisory Group minutes: June 2021

Attendees and apologies

  • Fiona Collie – Carers Scotland
  • Eilidh Dickson – Engender
  • Shirley Morris – VOCAL
  • Lisa Powell – COSLA
  • Angela Toal – Child Poverty Action Group
  • Paul Traynor – Carers Trust
  • Jane Sterry, Lynn Shaw – Scottish Government Carer Benefits Policy
  • Peter Stapleton – Scottish Government Carer Policy
  • Stephen McCabe – Scottish Government Social Security Programme
  • Kate Dickenson, Jonathan Wright, Vana Anastasiadou, Jim Bowie, Julie Guy – Scottish Government Analysis
  • Gavin Rautman – Social Security Scotland

Apologies

Hannah Ross, (COSLA) and Ellen Searle (Scottish Government Carer Benefits Policy)

Items and actions

Updates

Updates paper (Paper CBAG 2021/3) had been circulated in advance.  In response to questions by members, officials noted that:

  • discussions are ongoing with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) about a decision on extending or expiring regulations around breaks in care which had been brought in on a temporary basis in light of coronavirus.
  • promotion of access to the proposed Coronavirus Carer’s Allowance Supplement (CCAS) payment in December 2021 in advance of the qualifying date would be part of communications plans.
  • members would be directly informed once the payment date for the June Carer’s Allowance Supplement (CAS) payment date is confirmed, and that SG social media platforms will be updated accordingly.

Reflection and forward plans (Paper CBAG 2021/4)

Officials thanked members of the group for their input to carer benefits policy during the last term and noted some of the key achievements of the group in the last parliamentary term, ranging from developing an evidence based paper on longer term options for Carer’s Allowance once cases are transferred to Social Security Scotland, to ensuring the Cabinet Secretary and officials were informed of the impact of the pandemic on carers and in guiding subsequent policy work. 

The Chair presented Paper CBAG 2021/04 as a basis to reflect on whether the current remit and membership would continue to be appropriate, and what should be the priorities of the group.  In terms of other updates since the previous meeting in February:

  • The Young Carer Grant (YCG) interim evaluation has been undertaken and will be published over the summer.
  • There is an SNP manifesto commitment to extend Carer’s Additional Child Payment (CACP) to carers looking after multiple people of all ages. Given the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the work on CACP and the timetable for Scottish Carer’s Assistance (SCA), work is ongoing to consider whether the CACP commitment can be delivered as part of SCA and how best to extend this to meet the manifesto commitment.
  • Some recommendations of The Independent Review of Adult Social Care in Scotland relate to support for unpaid carers. Officials will keep members up to date and engaged with this work as it relates to carer benefits.
  • The Social Renewal Advisory Board have made recommendations regarding the Minimum Income Guarantee. This is a long term piece of work being undertaken within the Social Security Policy directorate. Officials invited members to get in touch if they would like to be involved in this.

Action: Members to get in touch with officials if they would like to be involved in Minimum Income Guarantee work.

Officials shared a draft work plan for CBAG and invited comments.

  • Members agreed with the proposal that a working group be set-up on carer benefits take-up and inclusivity, to inform carer benefits policy and communications. Members advised that disability benefits stakeholders may be useful to invite along due to the link between carer and disability benefits. Action: Officials to set up a working group on Scottish carer benefits uptake and inclusivity, including VOCAL, Carers Trust and CBAG.
  • Members expressed that it would be helpful to have more information on interactions with Scottish Child Payment and reserved benefits to ensure any overlapping benefit or ‘passporting’ issues are avoided in the rollout of Scottish Carer’s Assistance. Officials confirmed that they are liaising with DWP and HMRC regarding this.
  • Members agreed with the proposal that Inclusion Scotland, One Parent Families Scotland, Social Work Scotland and Oxfam be invited to become members of CBAG, and that island based carer representation be sought.

Actions:

  • Officials to invite Inclusion Scotland, One Parent Families Scotland, Social Work Scotland, and Oxfam to become core members of CBAG.
  • Members to propose any other useful stakeholders for the group.

Scottish Carer’s Assistance Multi Criteria Analysis

Officials reminded members that options for changes to Carer’s Allowance have been identified, based on input from carers, stakeholders and parliamentarians. The foundation for this work has been the Carer’s Allowance Longer Term Options paper developed with CBAG. Officials presented an up to date list of options to members for comment and consideration in advance of engagement with wider stakeholders as part of the Multi Criteria Analysis process. Internal Scottish Government stakeholders and external stakeholders will be involved in this process, which will develop final aims for Scottish Carer’s Assistance, a final list of options, and the criteria against which the options will be assessed. The outcomes of the Multi Criteria Analysis process will inform decision making on proposals for Scottish Carer’s Assistance. A series of events will run in June and July to take feedback from internal and external stakeholders on the aims, options and criteria as part of this process. 

Officials explained that making improvements to support for unpaid carers through Scottish Carer’s Assistance will be long-term and ongoing project. Changes to eligibility will not be possible before the completion of ‘case transfer’ – when all eligible carers in Scotland are receiving Scottish Carer’s Assistance from Social Security Scotland and not Carer’s Allowance from the DWP.

A carers ‘leave payment’ to support people to take short-term breaks from work, similar to maternity leave, will not be included in the options being considered as part of the Multi Criteria Analysis as employment law is reserved and this would not be possible with current devolved powers.

Members highlighted the importance of ensuring carers were better off as a result of any changes made through Scottish Carer’s Assistance, and that additional support be disregarded in calculation of means-tested DWP benefits, Tax Credits, and wider support. Members also highlighted concerns around the overlapping benefits rule. Officials confirmed that they are liaising with DWP and HMRC in relation to disregarding additional support in means-tested benefits and the impact of changes to Scottish Carer’s Assistance on the reserved system.

Actions:

  • Further thoughts on the Multi Criteria Analysis, and the options to considered through this process are welcome, and can be shared with officials outside of the meeting.
  • Officials to share Multi Criteria Analysis discussion event details.

What went well, even better if ...

Members commented that they found CBAG useful, and that their views were genuinely taken on board in policy development.

Action:  Members were invited to share any further thoughts on how meetings are run improvement or how we can improve our overall approach by contacting officials at any time.

AOB

Benefit uptake officials have been taking early input to inform the forthcoming benefit uptake strategy. Carer benefits officials noted that in light of evidence gathered and considered on carers and social security, they had proposed that the extent to which carers identified as carers be part of this, particularly in reference to people of a South-Asian or gypsy traveller communities.

Carers Policy officials commented on the valuable focus group and analysis undertaken within their team for Carers Awareness Campaign last year and would share work on this with members.

Finally, officials highlighted the upcoming Carers Week by reiterating that both training and online material via social media sites would be made available to help identify unpaid carers. There is important third-sector organisation work underway on this too.

Action: Carers Policy colleagues to share focus group and analysis work from the Carers Awareness Campaign last year with carer benefits and benefit uptake policy officials to inform policy development.

Actions as above

Organisation

Target date

Officials to take forward the implementation of a working group on inclusive communications – stakeholders from VOCAL, Carers Trust and CBAG confirmed they would like to be involved in any subgroup workings.

SG officials

Autumn 2021

Members to get in touch with officials if they would like to be involved in Minimum Income Guarantee work.

Members

Summer 2021

Officials to invite stakeholders from Inclusion Scotland, One Parent Families Scotland, Social Work Scotland, Oxfam to become core members of CBAG, and to seek islands representation.

SG officials

By next meeting

Officials also invited members to propose any other useful stakeholders for the group.

SG officials

By next meeting

Any further thoughts on the Multicriteria Options Appraisal to be shared with officials outside of the meeting (though principally through the formal events).

Members

July 2021

Officials will be in touch over next month or so to share SCA event details.

SG officials

June/July 2021

Members invited to share any other thoughts on how meetings are run and how they could be improved outside of the meeting.

Members

Ongoing

Carers Policy colleagues to share focus group and analysis work from the Carers Awareness Campaign last year.

SG officials

July 2021

Actions from previous meeting (Feb 2021)

Officials to engage with Engender on forthcoming SCA impact assessments (action from previous meeting)

SG officials

Planned for September

Officials to coordinate with Carers Trust on the upcoming Young Carer Action Day.

SG officials

Complete - March 2021

Officials to engage with carer organisations once the consultation has been launched to organise stakeholder engagement events and correspondence.

SG officials

Ongoing - March 2021 onwards

Members to contact officials with any further points relating to the evaluation.

Members

Complete - March 2021