Carer Benefits Advisory Group minutes: October 2023

Minutes from the meeting of the Carer Benefit Advisory Group on 5 October 2023.

Attendees and apologies


  • Angela Toal, CPAG
  • Anne Baldock, One Parent Families Scotland
  • Scottish Government Carer Benefits Policy (Chair)
  • Ellie Wagstaff, Marie Curie
  • Euan Geddes, Scottish Government Case Transfer Policy
  • Fiona Collie, Carers Scotland
  • Mike Brown, Social Work Scotland
  • Nicola Bell, Paul Traynor, Carers Trust
  • Rethenwyn Grethenan, Scottish Government User Research
  • Sharlene Neilson, Michelle Gallacher, Social Security Scotland Communications
  • Sharon McGuire, Scottish Government Carers Policy
  • Shirley Morris, VOCAL
  • Stephanie Miller, Citizens Advice Scotland
  • Anna Gavienas, Alice Crawford, Ellen Searle, (Chair), Lynn Shaw, Dawn Kane, Jane Sterry, Victoria Boal (Secretariat), Scottish Government Carer Benefits Policy


  •  John Cunningham, CoSLA

Items and actions

Minutes from previous meeting and actions

The minutes from the previous meeting were agreed. It was acknowledged that the previous minutes were more abbreviated than usual due to a technical issue.  

Following up from previous actions, it was agreed that:

  • officials will circulate a survey to identify convenient timings and locations for future meetings and set up 
  • the next two co-chairs will be Paul Traynor, from Carers Trust followed by Fiona Collie from Carers Scotland. It was agreed that officials would meet with the co-chair a month or so in advance to agree the agenda and approach
  • discussions around requirements for photo ID when applying for Carer Support Payment are ongoing


  • officials to provide update on photo ID for Carer Support Payment

Updates Paper 22

Members had the opportunity to ask any questions about anything related to carer benefits policy, and to share information from their own organisations. Members highlighted the following research:

  • Carers Trust’s recently published their Adult Carer Survey Report 
  • Carers Scotland’s annual ‘State of Caring’ reports, with the financial chapter, being published later in October.
  • Marie Curie’s forthcoming research conducted with the University of Birmingham about the experiences of carers during the first wave of the pandemic [post meeting note: the Carers and staff delivering end-of-life care need long-term support report has since been published]

In reflecting back over the past year, the following were highlighted by members as positives:

  • effective scrutiny of Carer Support Payment regulations at the recent Social Justice and Social Security Committee evidence session 
  • the August Young Carer Festival attended by 600 young carers, praised as a ‘fantastic opportunity to share information with young carers’
  • the extension of Carer Support Payment to around 1,500 students, described as a ‘sea change compared to policy in the rest of the UK’

In response to queries on carer benefits policy, the chair advised that:

  • approximately 80,000 carers are in receipt of Carers Allowance, with 40,000 having underlying entitlement [post meeting note: official figures show that as of February 2023, there were 83,407 carers in receipt of Carer’s Allowance in Scotland; with 40,935 having underlying entitlement]
  • any future decisions on extending provision of Carer Support Payment beyond the exiting commitment to increase it from eight to twelve weeks would lie with Scottish Ministers


  • Marie Curie representative to share their report with members once published

Carer Support Payment regulations process

Officials detailed next steps on regulations for Carer Support Payment.

The regulations for Carer Support Payment were approved by the Social Justice and Social Security Committee the week prior to this meeting.

The Carer Support Payment regulations would now proceed to parliament late this month, enabling them to come into force as planned in November, and allow for applications to be made in the three local authority areas of Dundee, Perth and Kinross, and Eilean Siar.  

Section 104 Orders regarding the interactions between Carer Support Payment and UK benefits are currently going through UK parliament, with the intention being to protect carers financially by ensuring that any extra payments made in Scotland are not taken into account by DWP when calculating payments.

With Carer Support Payment commencing in pilot areas this November, the Case Transfer process from Carer’s Allowance will follow in spring 2024. Officials noted that they are taking a phased approach, with the aim to have Carer Support Payment being available nationally in autumn 2024. It has been agreed between Scottish Government (SG) policy officials and the DWP that a phased approach is safest for carers. Due to the complexities in the ways that the benefit systems interact with each other, this will allow officials to test the integration between these systems and ensure they are working as intended. This will protect other benefits from being impacted also.

There were no questions from members.


To provide context for the item on communications, case transfer officials set out potential changes to the 3+1 payment cycle currently utilised by the DWP in the delivery of Carer’s Allowance, where a significant minority are paid every four weeks (three in arrears, one in advance).  It had not been possible to secure agreement with DWP to provide this arrangement in Carer Support Payment payment cycles with current Carer’s Allowance payments. As a result there will be an extra week’s delay for some carers prior to them receiving their first Carer Support Payment. 

Any carer that is concerned about this gap has the opportunity to request weekly in-advance payments to avoid this. 

In response to questions from members, officials confirmed that Case Transfer notifications have been developed to ensure that clients are able to make an informed choice, as well as being signposted to other avenues that will assist them in making a decision that’s right for them.

Officials from Social Security Scotland provided a presentation on the plans for communications to support launch and case transfer, and sought feedback from members.  They noted that 180–200 claims are expected in the initial pilot areas, with 2,700 new claims being expected every month following national rollout.

The communications strategy aims to raise awareness Carer Support Payment and encourage people to apply. It was also intended to ensure that the eligibility criteria is easily understood, to reduce barriers to applying (particularly taking into account the diversity of carers who could be eligible) and minimise applications from those who are ineligible.

The strategy will be split into four phases. All phases will have the overall same aim of letting carers know what will happen to their benefit and when: 

  • phase 1: lead up to the launch of pilot areas
  • phase 2: phased roll out of Carer Support Payment
  • phase 3: national launch
  • phase 4: post national roll out

The principles behind this communications approach will be to use data and insight as much as possible. For example – if officials know who the audiences will be, they can work with carer agencies that have pre-existing expertise on how to reach certain groups, based on what we know about them.

Key elements of the strategy were:

  • roadshow events are now live and include information on the policy rationale, eligibility, the application process, redeterminations and appeals, notifications, and support for applicants
  • further roadshows will take place for Case Transfer
  • roadshow slides will be made available
  • social media will be used, but not restricted to this, with other mechanisms used to reach diverse groups, such as radio and billboards
  • digital or physical leaflets will be shared with carer organisations
  • to attract those who don’t always identify as carers, carer stories and diverse, user tested images would be used, and instead of asking ‘are you a carer’, the question ‘do you look after someone on disability benefits’ would be asked

In response to questions from members in light of the telephone number for Social Security Scotland appearing on the leaflets, including for a separate line for advisors, officials acknowledged the long waiting times, and agreed to feed this back and come back to members with any update.

Another member highlighted that feedback they have received from carers that they support is that they do not like the use of one hand placed over another’s to indicate care. Officials responded that they currently do not have many good ‘abstract’ images, and member suggestions would be welcome. 

In response to questions about how complex information such as payment deductions and residency criteria would be explained, officials explained that user research was used to develop and test wording for such information. and how they potentially apply would be described to carers. 

In response to questions about newly eligible cohort students, officials confirmed that the majority of campaigning towards students would be digital, and that they were keen to work with universities and colleges to raise awareness. Any experience that members have in reaching out to such institutions would be welcomed by officials.

Officials continued by sharing letters that will be issued to those carers who are transferring over from Carer’s Allowance. 
In response to questions, officials confirmed that client advisors in Social Security Scotland would have guidance in the form of a scripted process in order to ensure carers could make the most informed decisions about payment cycles, and that they would also be able to direct carers to additional avenues for financial support.

SG officials then shared a preview of draft content including on Case Transfer that is still being worked on. The website had been designed with accessibility in mind in terms of font colour and size, and content reflected priorities expressed by carers. Focus groups of carers will be consulted to ensure continuous improvement of these pages. 

In terms of imagery, it was accepted that it was hard to balance being inclusive and reflecting the diversity of carers whilst challenging gender roles. For example, although women do a lot of caring, if women were heavily represented in any pictures used this may come across as stereotypical, and not reach as large an audience as intended. There were concerns that this could also reinforce the cycle that it is always women who are providing care. Members also reinforced their discomfort with the ‘hand over hand’ type of picture used to illustrate caring. Attention was drawn to the fact that not all disabilities are visible. It was suggested that images could illustrate other aspects of being a carer, e.g. going for a walk or having a chat with someone.


  • Social Security Scotland communications team to take feedback from members into account in finalising communication plans
  • officials to report back to the group on any developments in respect of waiting times and recruitment for the Social Security Scotland telephone line

Carer Support Payment – User Research

Officials presented to members on how User Research was informing the development of Carer Support Payment build, building on extensive previous carer input on policy, including through the work by Experience Panels.  It was explained that multiple rounds of research where conducted, and this was pivotal to understanding the variety of circumstances, attitudes, behaviours and motivations for carers applying for the benefit.  Key lessons on case transfer included:

  • participants were happy to receive information via letter
  • the visual guide initially suggested was more of a hinderance than a help in their understanding
  • carers indicated that they needed to know clearly what they will receive, when any changes will be made and what choices they can make to mitigate that

On case transfer, it is intended that the pilot areas will allow us to test how Carer Support Payment and the accompanying notifications will be received in urban, rural and island communities.

In response to questions from members, officials explained that they are aware of the need for older carers to receive notification that their entitlement will usually change from Carer Support Payment to State Pension as they approach State Pension age, as this had come up throughout user research on the benefit, and that it is on the list of notifications to be incorporated in future systems development.  

There were no other items under any other business.

Actions from previous quarterly meeting (January 2022):

  • share details of Case Transfer roadshows. Organisation(s) responsible: SG officials. Target date: by November. Status: completed
  • share slides/documents shared in this meeting. Organisation(s) responsible: SG officials. Target date: As soon as possible (ASAP). Status: completed
  • ask if more Client Advisor’s would be hired by Social Security Scotland prior to launch of Carer Support Payment Organisation(s) responsible: SG officials. Target date: ASAP Status: providing update
  • provide update on phone waiting times and Carer Support Payment. Organisation(s) responsible: SG officials. Target date: Next meeting. Status: ongoing
  • provide update to CBAG on benefits uptake work Organisation(s) responsible: SG officials. Target date: December Equalities event. Status: ongoing
  • arrange a meeting with Paul Traynor prior to the next meeting regarding co-chairing. Organisation(s) responsible: SG officials. Target date: January. Status: ongoing
  • share details of Carers Trust event on experience of older adult carers Organisation(s) responsible: Carers Trust. Target date: January. Status: ongoing
Back to top