Publication - Minutes

Carer Benefits Advisory Group minutes: November 2020

Published: 15 Feb 2021
Date of meeting: 20 Nov 2020
Location: By video conference

Minutes of the meeting of the Carer Benefits Advisory Group, held on 18 November 2020.

Published:
15 Feb 2021
Carer Benefits Advisory Group minutes: November 2020

Attendees and apologies

Chair:

  • Ellen Searle, Carer Benefits and Case Transfer Policy Unit, Scottish Government

Present: 

  • Fiona Collie, Carers Scotland
  • Eilidh Dickson, Engender 
  • Paul Traynor, Carers Trust 
  • Angela Toal, CPAG 
  • Ellen Searle, Scottish Government
  • Lynn Shaw, Scottish Government
  • Stephen McCabe, Scottish Government
  • Jim Bowie, Scottish Government
  • Catherine Henry, Scottish Government
  • Peggy Winford, Scottish Government
  • Kate Dickenson, Scottish Government

Items and actions

Scottish Government updates (paper CBAG 2020/1)

In response to questions, SG confirmed that:

  • in respect of the impacts of COVID-19 on the delivery of Scottish benefits, that timescales for Scottish Carer’s Assistance and Carer’s Additional Child Payment were still being reworked
  • Ministers did not plan to make a further Coronavirus Carer’s Allowance Supplement payment

Scottish Carer’s Assistance (SCA) consultation (paper CBAG 2020/2)  

The Chair explained the background on Ministers’ commitment to undertake a consultation on Scottish Carer’s Assistance in early 2021 to shape future delivery of this benefit, and sought views on the proposed draft aims, and length. 

Members highlighted the following in discussion: 

  • the importance of supporting carers in differing circumstances and the intrinsic value of the caring role, taking into account for many it will be possible to go into work or education
  • the impact of the experience of caring on carers, and the importance of kindness within social security for carers
  • the need to recognise the complexity and changing nature of carers’ lives
  • the need to explicitly set out what the benefit aimed to achieve, in particular its relationship to addressing poverty
  • that benefit uptake work was vital, including for those with underlying entitlement only
  • a short, concise document (10-15 pages) would work well, given the demands of responding to covid-19

Detailed discussion points are set out in Annex A

Action:

  • SG officials to feed points raised into advice to Ministers on the consultation

Exportability 

SG officials updated members on progress in work to make Carer’s Allowance Supplement and Young Carer Grant exportable to carers living in EU, Switzerland and European Economic Area countries, and sought feedback on the application form (using the current Child Winter Heating Allowance application form as an example), and the communications plans. Officials highlighted the following points:  

  • regulations to enable the exportability would come into effect in December 
  • for any benefit paid, the UK must be the competent state and the benefit recipient must have a genuine and sufficient link to Scotland. A genuine and sufficient link to Scotland would meet specific eligibility criteria, mainly related to ‘identity’. The decision-maker would then need to make clear that the link was to Scotland and not another part of the UK
  • officials expect the numbers this would impact to be minimal. In terms of Carer’s Allowance Supplement, 595 Carer’s Allowance UK payments made are made to clients in the EEA. It is estimated that this rule would apply to a maximum of between 50-150 people

Members agreed that the proposed approach was appropriate.

Action:

  • SG officials to circulate the final draft application form and communications plans for YCG and CAS exportability to members for comments 

CBAG workplan 2020/21 (paper CBAG 2020/3) 

SG officials asked for members comments on the CBAG draft workplan to May 2021. 

  • a quarterly approach to the meetings was agreed as members agreed it was helpful to have insight on this basis. Officials reiterated that the CBAG group was very helpful as it ensured SG received the right input and scrutiny throughout the policy-making process
  • no further comments were made – all members were content with structure and issues the series of meetings propose to cover
  • engender offered their assistance with any forthcoming impact assessments

Action:

  • SG officials to engage with Engender on forthcoming equalities impact assessments

Actions:

  • officials to engage with Engender on forthcoming SCA impact assessments - SG officials - in advance of publication
  • SG officials to feed CBAG discussions into advice to Ministers on the consultation - SG officials - February 2021
  • SG officials to circulate the draft application form and communications plans for YCG and CAS exportability to members for comments - SG officials - February 2021 

Annex A: Scottish Carer’s Assistance (SCA) consultation – members views on draft aims 

Group 1:

  • in terms of strengths of the draft aims of the consultation, the group highlighted that this would add employment value, where carers would be able to work alongside their caring responsibilities. The group also highlighted the language used throughout as helpful
  • in terms of weaknesses, the group highlighted that work needs to be done to ensure that carers understand Carer’s Allowance eligibility criteria. Under the current system, many get confused with terms – especially in terms of ‘Attendance Allowance’ and this is often confused with being for the carer
  • the group also saw error in the phrase ‘meaningful employment’ as this could potentially detract value from caring responsibilities. Officials would therefore need to ensure the caring role itself is recognised as a meaningful role
  • another weakness highlighted was ensuring pensioners were aware of their underlying entitlement issue. The group highlighted that there was value in making pensioners aware of their underlying entitlement, as in some cases elderly carers may be eligible for pension credit top-up. In this sense, a take-up campaign may be useful

Group 2:

  • the group raised that it would be beneficial to identify transition points and how to link up with other carer organisations or services – particularly around bereavement issues where it may be possible to taper or extend a payment for longer period of time 
  • the group raised the impact on different types of care and highlighted that there may be a threat of discriminating between certain groups. For example, if two parents care for a child and receive a double payment, but there is a one parent looking after one child – this may be discriminatory in some sense

Group 3:

  • the final group raised the word ‘kindness’, which may be an unusual choice of wording to use in an application, especially for benefits
  • the group also raised that stresses which a caring role may have on people should be noted, as ‘What is the impact that care has on a person?’ isn’t always considered. Officials should therefore consider how they can make this an easier conversation or process for the person at the end of the line
  • experiences should be more streamlined so that the impact on carers’ lives feels as joined up as it can be