Background, Policy Aims and Proposed Rules
Carer Support Payment will replace Carer’s Allowance in Scotland. Carer’s Allowance is a benefit for unpaid carers in recognition of the caring role and its impact on their ability to earn income from paid work.
Scottish Government estimates suggest that unpaid care is currently saving Scotland £13.1 billion per year in health and social care costs (£12.8 billion per year in social care costs, plus £320 million in health care costs). Following the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, where more people undertook caring roles than ever before due to face-to-face respite services reducing, the overall level and value of unpaid care being provided in the UK is likely to have increased. As the average age of the population continues to rise, the numbers of unpaid carers in the UK are also anticipated to increase.
Origin of the benefit
Carer’s Allowance developed in the UK from the introduction of the ‘Invalid Care Allowance’ (ICA) in 1975. The scheme followed the 1974 White Paper ‘Social Security Provision for Chronically Sick and Disabled People’ which stated that there was ‘a strong case for the provision of a non-contributory benefit of right’ to be payable to carers of sick and disabled people.
Married women were, initially, not eligible for ICA. This reflected wider societal expectations at the time, that married women would provide care for family members. In 1986, this policy was held to be unlawful by the European Court and the benefit was widened out to all carers regardless of their marital status. Further changes to the benefit were made in 2002, including the abolition of an upper age limit of 65 for claims. The benefit was also renamed Carer’s Allowance.
The key criteria for Carer’s Allowance now are that it provides support to unpaid or informal carers who provide 35 hours or more of care a week for people receiving certain disability benefits, and earning below a certain amount. In 2023-24 it will provide £76.75 a week and the earnings threshold will be £139 per week.
The Scotland Act 2016 gave the Scottish Government legislative competence over eleven benefits, including Carer’s Allowance. The 2018 Act sets out the legislative framework for the administration of social security in Scotland and makes provision for operational functions such as managing overpayments, fraud, error and appeals. Since September 2018, Carer’s Allowance in Scotland has been administered by the DWP under an agency agreement in advance of the replacement benefit being introduced.
Carer’s Allowance in the context of reserved benefits
Carer’s Allowance is arguably the most complex of the benefits being devolved to Scotland, due to its linkages with other benefits. As an ‘income-replacement’ benefit, it has a high number of interactions with low-income benefits delivered by DWP, upon which tens of thousands of Scotland’s carers rely for help with housing and other basic needs. Carer’s Allowance eligibility passports carers on low incomes to additional carer specific payments. It also entitles carers to Class 1 National Insurance contributions, which can help to, for example, build up their State Pension. These interactions mean that the principle of safe and secure transition of DWP benefits to Social Security Scotland through the devolution process is particularly important, as any increase in complexity during the case transfer process would increase the risk to the ongoing payment of these benefits to carers in Scotland.
Extra payments for carers in Scotland
We prioritised support for carers in our new social security system. Our first change when the 2018 Act was passed was to introduce Carer’s Allowance Supplement (CAS). This increased the existing Carer’s Allowance which was the lowest working age benefit, to being in line with and now exceeding Jobseeker’s Allowance through two additional payments a year. Carers who receive both Carer’s Allowance Supplement payments in 2023-24 receive the equivalent of £87.15 weekly, rather than the £76.75 they would receive without the uplift.
Double payments of Carer's Allowance Supplement were made in June 2020 and December 2021 in light of the additional pressures faced by carers as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Since the launch of Carer’s Allowance Supplement in 2018, 920,970 Carer’s Allowance Supplement payments totalling £255.4 million have been made to 148,515 carers. By 2023, carers in Scotland continuously in receipt of Carer’s Allowance will have received an extra £3,300 through the Supplement since its introduction.
In October 2019, we opened applications for Young Carer Grant, the first support of its kind in the UK, providing annual grants of £359.65 (2023-24 rate) to Scotland’s young carers in recognition of their caring role. The payment helps them access opportunities which are the norm for other young people. Over 8,500 payments Young Carer Grant payments have been made since its introduction, with a total value around £2.7 million.
Timing for the introduction of a new payment for carers of more than one person was affected by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. This support, which expands on an earlier commitment to a Carer’s Additional Child Payment, is known as Carer’s Additional Person Payment for now. The support would be equivalent to £10 per week for each additional person being cared for who is in receipt of a disability benefit. We now intend to implement this commitment as part of work on Carer Support Payment, once the benefits of existing Carer’s Allowance clients have been safely transferred from DWP.
Carer Support Payment policy aims
When we consulted in 2016 about Scottish benefits, most people who responded agreed that the new benefit should have a similar role to Carer’s Allowance – that is, it should be a benefit to provide some replacement income for unpaid carers who have caring roles which mean they are less able to take on paid work. Most people agreed it should not be a payment for the care provided, but should provide some recognition for the caring role – by providing support with no requirement to look for work.
Carer Support Payment will be ‘non-means tested’ in the same way as Carer’s Allowance. This means that a carer’s income, other than from paid work, and their household’s income won’t affect whether they can get the benefit, or how much they will get. Because it will be paid to people caring for at least 35 hours a week and with limited earnings, it is focused on unpaid carers who have some of the most intensive caring roles, and who are more likely to be on lower incomes.
In March 2020, we published a discussion paper on the new benefit, setting out draft aims for what the new support should do. The aims sit within the broader framework of the National Carers Strategy. They also need to be seen in the context of wider social security provision available to carers from DWP. It is vital that DWP continue to recognise Carer Support Payment recipients as carers for the purposes of paying Universal Credit and other benefits.
The aims are:
Aim 1. Carer Support Payment provides income for unpaid carers in recognition of their vital role and its impact on their lives. It is delivered in a way that takes into account that different carers have different needs, and that different caring situations have different impacts.
Aim 2. Carer Support Payment provides stability and supports carers to access opportunities outside of caring, where possible, and they wish to do so.
Aim 3. Carer Support Payment is designed to ensure carers have a positive experience of the social security system, and to maximise carers’ take-up of all support available to them.
In addition to setting out the broad framework for the delivery of devolved social security in Scotland, the 2018 Act also allows Scottish Ministers to create a new social security system using a distinct ‘Scottish approach’, which has our values of dignity, fairness and respect at its core. Carer Support Payment will contribute to this. It will also help to deliver our overall vision for unpaid carers in Scotland, that unpaid carers can provide the best possible care, supported by a system that recognises and values their contribution, allowing them to lead a full life in addition to their caring role.
The policy contributes to the following National Outcomes:
- We are healthy and active
- We tackle poverty by sharing opportunities, wealth and power more equally
- We are well educated, skilled and able to contribute to society
- We respect, protect and fulfil human rights and live free from discrimination.
The first priority of Carer Support Payment is the safe and secure transfer of Carer’s Allowance awards in Scotland currently managed by DWP to Social Security Scotland. Scottish Government officials are engaging with DWP to agree a timetable for the transfer of awards to Social Security Scotland. We intend to complete case transfer as soon as possible, while ensuring the process is safe and secure, so that we can deliver improvements to Carer Support Payment. The Carer’s Allowance Agency Agreement runs until March 2025, and we remain on track to complete case transfer for all disability and carer benefits by the end of 2025. Scottish Ministers have developed a safe and secure transfer process, which will require no action on behalf of the individual wherever possible, and has been designed in line with the following case transfer principles:
- no individual will be required to re-apply for their benefit
- individuals will continue to receive the right payment, at the right time
- we will complete the case transfer process as soon as possible while ensuring it is safe and secure
- we will maintain clear communications with clients during the transfer process.
Carer Support Payment rules
It is planned that Carer Support Payment will develop over time, in line with the agreed benefit aims.
Policy on launch
On introduction, Carer Support Payment will provide an improved, more accessible service to carers, joining up with wider services to help carers access information on the wide range of support available to them.
Eligibility for the new benefit will broadly mirror Carer’s Allowance to enable the safe and secure transfer of awards from DWP to Social Security Scotland. However, there will be some changes, to reflect existing differences in wider Scottish social security policy and principles. As set out in the regulations which this impact assessment accompanies:
1. Core eligibility will mirror Carer’s Allowance in that carers will need to be aged 16 or over, providing 35 hours of care or more a week to someone getting certain disability benefits, and not earning more than £139 per week from paid work.
2. Payment amounts will be in line with Carer’s Allowance, though carers will continue to receive additional support through Carer’s Allowance Supplement.
3. Residence requirements for receipt of the benefit will mirror those for devolved disability benefits, including the ‘past presence test’ which will require presence in the Common Travel Area for 26 of the past 52 weeks. The test will also be dis-applied in some circumstances, including where a person is receiving support under the Special Rules for Terminal Illness, has a refugee or humanitarian protection status, or is caring for someone who meets these criteria.
4. Carer Support Payment may be temporarily stopped in a number of situations where Carer’s Allowance would be suspended or ended, reducing the need to make new applications. Carer Support Payment will continue to be paid in some situations where a qualifying disability benefit is suspended, to improve the stability of support for carers.
5. Re-determination and appeal processes and timescales will mirror the disability benefits, providing more time for carers to request a re-determination compared with the low-income benefits, and clarity on timings for re-determination decisions.
6. Eligibility will be expanded to include more carers in full-time education. In particular, the benefit will be available for the first time to people aged 20 and over in full-time education at any level, and people aged 16 to 19 in full-time advanced education. As part of the national roll out, this will also be extended to include some carers aged 16 to 19 in full-time non-advanced education in exceptional circumstances.
Other differences from Carer’s Allowance from launch will be:
7. Applications for Carer Support Payment will not be accepted in advance, while Carer’s Allowance applications may be accepted up to three months before a carer expects to become entitled to support. Our understanding is that this provision is not currently well used. Our intention is that Carer Support Payment applications will be handled more quickly. Providing an advance application option is likely to add complexity and confusion to the application system. Backdating provisions in place for Carer Support Payment will prevent carers from losing out on support they are entitled to where they are not able to apply from the first day of their entitlement. Nevertheless, the potential for advance applications will be kept under review as part of continuous improvement.
8. Carer Support Payment will be paid four weekly in arrears as standard, while Carer’s Allowance offers a choice of weekly in advance payments. Carers whose benefits are transferring from Carer’s Allowance will continue to receive weekly in advance payments and weekly in advance payments will be available to carers who are terminally ill, or caring for someone who is terminally ill. However, the overall approach is intended to reduce the potential for overpayments.
During the case transfer period and beyond, further improvements to link carers to wider support available to them will be made.
Further improvements to eligibility after completion of case transfer
We plan to bring forward further regulations to provide for changes we are committed to make to Carer Support Payment in future. These are planned for as soon as practicable after case transfer completes. These are set out below.
9. We are committed to introducing a new Carer’s Additional Person Payment. Detailed policy is under consideration taking into account the feedback from the consultation. This payment is intended to provide an extra £10 per week for carers receiving Carer Support Payment who have a significant caring role for more than one person in receipt of disability benefits.
10. We plan to provide short-term assistance in some situations where a Carer Support Payment decision is being challenged, and provide support to carers when the person they care for is challenging a decision and receiving short-term assistance. Because of the complex links the existing Carer’s Allowance benefit has with support which remains reserved, we need to continue to work with the DWP to consider the impacts on other benefits before finalising our plans. We plan to deliver short-term assistance and related support for Carer Support Payment after case transfer is complete, rather than when the benefit first launches.
11. We plan to increase the period that Carer Support Payment is paid after the loss of a person being cared for from eight to twelve weeks.
12. We plan to pay Carer’s Allowance Supplement alongside Carer Support Payment in future, so that carers receive a higher regular income.
Potential changes under consideration for the future
Further potential changes which could be made in future to Carer Support Payment eligibility and rules were set out in the public consultation. We are using the consultation responses to inform our ongoing consideration of these potential changes. These are set out below.
13. To increase the period of time that Carer Support Payment is paid when a person being cared for goes into hospital or residential accommodation.
14. To extending eligibility so that Carer Support Payment could be available to people who are caring for two different people for a total of 35 hours.
15. To increases to the earnings threshold and consider whether a ‘run on’ of support could be introduced where a carer has earnings over the threshold.
There is a problem
Thanks for your feedback