Carer Benefits Advisory Group minutes: September 2022

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 28 September 2022.

Attendees and apologies


  • Angela Toal, Child Poverty Action Group
  • Anne Baldock, One Parent Families Scotland
  • Fran Holligan, COSLA
  • Paul Traynor, Carers Trust
  • Shirley Morris, VOCAL
  • Stephanie Millar, Citizens Advice Scotland
  • Hana Wilde, Jane Sterry (Chair), Pabby Johnson (Secretariat), Robin Briggs, Sohel Ahmed, Scottish Government Carer Benefits Policy (Ellen Searle joined the meeting at 10.45)
  • Michelle Gallacher, Social Security Scotland
  • Paul Noble, Social Security Research and Digital Resources
  • Sharon McGuire, Scottish Government Carers Policy 
  • Silvia Soriano-Rivera & Georgia O’Brien, Scottish Government Analysis
  • Stephen McCabe, Scottish Government Social Security Programme


  • Fiona Collie (Carers Scotland), and Jill Wood (Engender)
  • Laura Brown (Social Security Programme)

Items and actions

Updates (CBAG Paper 2022/010)

Members had no comments in relation to the content of Updates Paper.

Cost of living and carers

Scottish Government (SG) officials invited updates on the cost of living crisis and carers, to inform advice to Ministers.

Members reported the following:

  • services designed for carers in financial crisis are under huge pressures as they are now being relied on by a much larger range of carers; emergency support grants available in local carer centres are being used frequently, rather than being one-off payments, short break funds are also over stretched
  • they are seeing a heavy reliance on recovery funds, coupled with high numbers of debt advice queries, referrals to food banks and charity organisations to provide food for people in their homes
  • on energy costs, support available in the form of energy cards can only be used for prepaid meters, carers on standard meters cannot access this support


  • Carers Trust, One Parent Families Scotland and Marie Curie reports to be shared with Group members 

Scottish Carer’s Assistance name 

SG User Research officials presented on analytical work on a permanent name for Scottish Carer’s Assistance, and undertook an exercise called “Name the Benefits" with members. In the discussion, members made the following comments: 

  • the name “Carer Support Payment /Carer’s Assistance” was clear 
  • using the word “Gratitude” sounded patronising.  If the word “Financial” was used, “Payment” was not needed, and members preferred the word Payment”
  • the word “Payment” was important given that most people would be paid it, but this would not work as well for people with underlying entitlements who would not receive payment
  • some members questioned whether the word “Scottish” was needed as Carer’s Allowance Supplement does not have the name “Scottish” attached. In response, others felt that including “Scottish” would reduce people outwith Scotland trying to apply
  • the name “Carer’s Assistance” and “Carer Support Payment” were the preferred options from the naming the benefit exercise


  • SG officials to incorporate members’ input into the evidence base for advice to Ministers on the name

Service Join Up (CBAG Paper 2022/11)

SG officials led and presented to the members on proposals to join-up carers to services through Scottish Carer’s Assistance, highlighting key themes, future changes, and wider improvements.

Members noted that the introduction of the new benefit provides an excellent opportunity as applicants may not be aware of the wider support, highlighting the following areas as important:

  • opportunity to highlight the wider support available on Carers Act and cross referencing with advocacy and counselling service available
  • recommendation that General Practices (GP’s) should be the first place of call to identify carers, however information sharing and data protection agreements would need to be put in place for GPs to refer carers to available support and services
  • provision of information for parents especially single parents with disabled children and some links to educational and recreational materials such as educational toys tailored more for them
  • signposting for mental health and wellbeing for parents and children of carers for assistance
  • there should be links to health and social work and social services if possible, and financial advice made available
  • clear explanation of underlying entitlement should be provided to those who do not qualify


  • SG officials to take members’ input into account in planning work on service join up

Any other business

Members agreed that it would be helpful from them to have an understanding of the technical development process to build Scottish Carer’s Assistance systems. 

Members were informed about the upcoming annual Carers Parliament event in November 2022 


  • SG officials to speak with programme on members joining-in the SCA building and development process 
  • SG officials to include upcoming events in the Updates Papers provided in advance of quarterly meetings

Actions from previous quarterly meeting (June 2022):

  • member from Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) to check with colleagues on the issue of backdating claims and revert to members. SG official will follow up and highlight this to colleagues in disability benefits. Organisation(s) responsible: CPAG Member and SG Officials. Target date: Completed – keep monitoring
  • updates on the impact of cost-of-living crisis and how this is impacting carers will be fed into Ministerial advice. Organisation(s) responsible: SG officials. Target date: Ongoing
  • SG officials to consider members’ input on STA and multiple carers for the same disabled person in advising Minister on Scottish Carer’s Assistance policy at launch. Organisation(s) responsible: SG officials. Target date: Ongoing
  • SG officials to get in touch with member from VOCAL regarding equalities groups. Organisation(s) responsible: SG officials. Target date: Completed
  • schedule of upcoming events and key themes that the group would like to do this year. Organisation(s) responsible: SG officials. Target date: Ongoing - provide update

Actions from previous quarterly meeting (January 2022):

  • 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. Organisation(s) responsible: SG officials. Target date: Pending - communications work on SCA
  • officials to ensure sufficient engagement with older carers on a long-term carer recognition payment. Organisation(s) responsible: SG officials. Target date: Partially completed - ongoing
  • invitation opened to members to join working group on YCG evaluation, which would take into account DACBEAG recommendations on YCG. VOCAL, One Parent Families Scotland and Carers Scotland have shared their interest. Organisation(s) responsible: Members. Target date: Autumn
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