Carer Support Payment: equality impact assessment

The equality impact assessment (EQIA) considers potential impacts of the Carer’s Assistance (Carer Support Payment) (Scotland) Regulations 2023 on individuals with one or more protected characteristics.

Impact of Carer Support Payment to those in protected groups

There are a number of issues faced by unpaid carers in general that need to be taken into account when considering the impacts of Carer Support Payment on carers with one or more protected characteristics.

Carers are more likely to have below average incomes and are more likely to live in areas of social deprivation[81]. Some groups with protected characteristics are already more likely to be in this category[82]. Low-income households with an unpaid carer are likely to be disproportionately impacted by the current cost-of-living crisis[83].

There are specific additional challenges and barriers associated with some protected characteristics. This could include being from a community where providing informal care to relatives is felt to be the norm, not having English as a first language, or having less confidence with application forms or technology. Not all of those who meet the eligibility criteria will identify as a carer, know about carer benefits, or feel confident in applying.

Caring for 35 hours or more a week can be intense. The Scottish Health Survey 2019 found that mental wellbeing is lower on average among those who provide a greater number of unpaid caring hours per week [84]. This can be more challenging for those carers who experience additional barriers due to protected characteristics. Also, mental wellbeing could be exacerbated for those who provided informal care during the pandemic, when many formal services were unavailable or reduced for extended periods, and chances to have a break from caring were more limited.

The following sections summarise the issues and set out the key proposals and activities in relation to each group. Please note that there is much activity which is relevant across all or most protected characteristics. For example, when Carer Support Payment is up and running, we will take feedback from carers with all protected characteristics, including those who share more than one protected characteristics (i.e. who are intersectional) to identify and address any barriers, seeking to continuously improve our training, guidance and processes to deliver our aims. For better readability, we have focused on the key information relevant to each characteristic, and cross refer where appropriate.


We have identified no negative impacts in respect of sex as a result of the introduction of Carer Support Payment. We have identified a range of positive impacts through the new benefit for women in particular.

The gendered nature of caring is a key equality issue for Carer Support Payment. Reflecting that in society caring roles most typically fall to women, 69% of people who get Carer's Allowance are women[85].

Women already face a gender pay gap and are more likely to have been affected by previous benefit changes[86] and by the coronavirus pandemic in multiple ways[87]. Women are more likely than men to rely on social security, and for some women, Carer's Allowance, paid directly to the carer, may be their main or only independent income.

Measures to link carers to wider support and services can help address the inequality faced by women, as well as other groups of people with protected characteristics. A more joined-up approach will allow carers to access clear information on the support available to them, including other social security benefits they may be entitled to. We will also signpost carers to support to help them access opportunities outside of caring, where possible and should they wish to do so, taking into account the particular issues identified by and in respect of women carers. This supports the vision set out in the National Carers Strategy, to ‘enable people to provide care for loved ones in a meaningful and sustainable way while still being able to work, attend education and have full lives away from caring.’ [88] We will make changes in time for launch, further changes as part of the national roll out, and will continue to make improvements in future.

The change from launch (set out in the regulations which this EQIA accompanies) to allow Carer Support Payment awards to be ‘temporarily stopped’ in a number of situations where Carer’s Allowance would be suspended or ended reduces the need to make new applications where a carer is not entitled to support for a short period. These situations are where:

  • the person being cared for is in hospital or residential care for longer than 28 days,
  • the carer earns over the earnings limit or
  • the carer exceeds the allowable breaks in care for a period.

This is intended to provide more stable support and reduce stress. We also know that the rules around earnings in Carer’s Allowance can be confusing and we are working through user research and testing to make information and processes for assessing carers’ earnings as clear as possible. It will be important to make these processes as clear and easy to use as possible, as we know this can be a barrier to women[89].

We considered the residence and presence conditions which should apply to Carer Support Payment and have decided that these should mirror the devolved disability benefits and not Carer’s Allowance from launch. This is to support consistency with our disability benefits, particularly taking into account that carers receiving Carer Support Payment will increasingly be caring for people receiving these benefits. The divergence from Carer’s Allowance, which includes a reduced ‘past-presence test’ was considered by and agreed with the Department for Work and Pensions in recognition of the importance of ensuring that carers can continue to receive support which is the responsibility of the UK Government but linked to Carer’s Allowance (and in future Carer Support Payment). Respondents to the consultation were in favour of the residence requirements aligning with devolved disability benefits.

The regulations also disapply the past presence test in line with the disability benefits, so that carers are not required to meet the test where they are terminally ill. In addition to this the past presence test will be disapplied for carers where it has been disapplied for the person they are caring for, to ensure carers are supported to provide care on the same timescales.

The past presence test will impact UK nationals returning to Scotland, and third country nationals who have immigration status that allows them access to public funds. There are significant challenges in relation to the data available on these groups and interactions with social security benefits. The change is expected to particularly benefit women as the majority of unpaid carers and recipients of the existing benefits though limited additional information is available.

While we recognise there were some calls for the past presence test to be removed altogether, to allow more people to receive support sooner, this would need to be considered across all devolved benefits and taking into account the potential impacts for safe and secure transfer, as well as implications for wider support.

Changes to the rules on receiving Carer Support Payment while studying full time will make it easier for more women receiving the benefit to access education, which could help to increase their longer-term employment and financial prospects.

In terms of male carers, we know that they may be less likely to seek support than female carers. We will take this into account in developing benefit uptake materials, for example by ensuring a sufficient range of images of males in promotional materials.

It is not expected that the transfer of entitlement from Carer’s Allowance to Carer Support Payment will create any particular barriers resulting from our policy approach in relation to sex. Our approach will protect continuity of payments, which is particularly important for women as a group given their, on average, greater reliance upon social security.

Pregnancy and maternity

We have identified no negative impacts to those who are pregnant or have a baby through this EQIA. We have identified some positive impacts.

We do not currently have any data on the number of carers that fall under this protected characteristic. Carrying out informal caring of 35 hours a week while being pregnant or looking after a baby is likely to be stressful and exhausting. Therefore, the information set out above in relation to women, particularly the impact of increases to payment levels, will help making some progress against structural inequality and plans to provide greater stability. The actions to link clients to relevant services will also positively impact people with these protected characteristics.

People who are on Maternity Allowance, which is typically higher than Carer’s Allowance, may have only underlying entitlement to the new benefit. We will encourage people to apply for the benefit as having underlying entitlement can increase the amount of support carers can access in other benefits. We will also use this engagement opportunity to make them aware of wider support for carers, such as their rights to a Young Carer Statement or Adult Carer Support Plan, and to signpost them to local and national support services (see also the section on underlying entitlement and case transfer on page 32).

It is not expected that the transfer of entitlement from Carer’s Allowance to Carer Support Payment will create any particular barriers resulting from our policy approach negatively impacting people with this protected characteristic. Our approach will protect continuity of payments for this group, who, as set out in relation to women, are more likely to be reliant on social security.

We recognise that we lack evidence on this protected characteristic. We will seek to remedy this as we continue to develop policy in this area, for example by engaging with organisations that support women and young parents. We will also monitor this through data and evaluation, including client experience surveys once the benefit has launched.


We have identified no negative impacts in relation to the protected characteristic of age through the introduction of Carer Support Payment, although we acknowledge that some older carers are disappointed that the benefit will, like Carer’s Allowance, not be paid to people with only underlying entitlement. We have identified some positive impacts.

Younger carers

Young carers are less likely to be in receipt of Carer Support Payment than adults of working age and above. This is because the benefit is a payment for adults which seeks to provide some income where the ability to work is constrained by the caring role. We have already introduced Young Carer Grant to recognise the role of caring amongst young adult carers. This support is available to carers aged 16 to 18 providing informal care of 16 hours or more a week to someone on disability benefits. It is paid regardless of earnings, income or education, and can be paid in respect of care provided to a disabled person who is also cared for by someone receiving Carer’s Allowance. It aims to help young carers improve their own quality of life by enabling them to access opportunities which are the norm for their non-caring peers.

We know that take-up of carer benefits may be affected by the young person having concerns about social services, not recognising their caring role, and that their communication preferences may be different from other age groups. Learning from Young Carer Grant and evidence from user research is being used to design and deliver communications which take into account these issues, and this will include promoting the multiple channels available for application.

The key positive impact for young adult carers will be the change to enable carers in full-time advanced education to access Carer Support Payment. This will enable more younger carers with intensive caring roles to continue their studies beyond school and college.

In terms of study, Carer’s Allowance can only be claimed by people studying part-time courses of less than 21 hours per week. Carer Support Payment rules expand eligibility considerably. Those aged 16 to 19 will continue to be eligible while studying non-advanced education courses of less than 21 hours per week, and in addition, will be able to claim while studying any advanced education courses for any amount of time. Students over the age of 20 will be entitled to Carer Support Payment regardless of what type of education they are undertaking and for how many hours. We are working closely with the Student Awards Agency Scotland and the Scottish Funding Council to ensure that the extension of entitlement to Carer Support Payment is fully reflected within relevant guidance and that overall levels of support for full-time student carers across social security and further and higher education are maintained to avoid any unintended consequences of extending eligibility for support.

We are also continuing to monitor the position for student carers who study non-advanced educational courses. Many young carers aged 16 to 19 in non-advanced education will be able to receive support through the Young Carer Grant and the Education Maintenance Allowance. Their parents or guardians should also continue to have access to support through reserved benefits such as Child Benefit, and if they are on lower incomes, Universal Credit and Child Tax Credit. In line with our policies on the Young Carer Grant, it is important to get the balance right between providing support but not incentivising or normalising young people taking on a substantive caring role alongside their school-level education.

As part of the national roll out of Carer Support Payment we will extend eligibility for the benefit to carers aged 16 to 19 in full-time non-advanced education in certain circumstances. This will allow carers who would have entitlement to social security benefits in their own right, such as those without parental support or have childcare responsibilities, limited capability for work or couples where one or both are student, to access the benefit. This is in recognition of the fact that these carers are unlikely to have any other form of parental or financial support.

We will continue to look carefully at the impact of the changes we are making to the education rules, including the interaction between Carer Support Payment and the Young Carer Grant, and wider support in the education and reserved benefits systems, to ensure we continue to get the balance right between supporting young carers and not incentivising substantive caring roles, and to address any gaps in entitlement.

Carers of working age

Longer term proposals to look at changes to the earnings threshold are likely to have a positive impact on working age carers – where they wish to take on paid work and are able to do so. From launch we are working to make the operation of rules around earnings clearer for carers and have been working through user research and testing to make information on earnings rules and application materials work better for the people who will use them.

Older carers

We know that older carers are more likely to have health problems and disabilities than the population at large, which can make the caring role more difficult over time. Information about this is contained in the disability section below.

Some older carers, although by no means all, may be less comfortable using digital technology than other age groups. The multiple channels available for applications will be actively promoted to this age group to help address this barrier.

Older carers make up the majority of carers with an underlying entitlement to Carer’s Allowance – meaning they meet the eligibility criteria for Carer’s Allowance but do not receive it as they are in receipt of state pension, which is significantly higher than Carer’s Allowance. As the policy intent for Carer Support Payment is to recognise the caring role within the benefits system by providing some income with no requirement to work, this impact is not regarded as negative as these carers still have access to an income, and no requirement to work. In addition, carers with underlying entitlement on low incomes will continue to receive additional carer specific benefits.

We do however recognise that some older people may feel that that they lose recognition of their caring role when they start to get state pension instead of Carer’s Allowance, which their non-caring peers also receive. These feelings may have been exacerbated by the introduction of Carer’s Allowance Supplement, even though the state pension is still higher than the combined payments of Carer’s Allowance and the Carer’s Allowance Supplement. We also know from research with carers and support organisations that communications regarding underlying entitlement are not well understood and carers have a negative reaction to these. We have worked to design our communications around this to be clearer, reflect recognition for the caring role, and focus on the linked support that carers can access due to underlying entitlement. We will encourage people to take up or maintain underlying entitlement. This will help ensure that those on lower incomes receive any carer specific benefits to which they are entitled, and that they access wider carer support, for example through their local Carer Centre, and short breaks. Also, the proposal to consider a long-term carer recognition payment has the potential to benefit many of those with only underlying entitlement.

Case transfer and underlying entitlement

In respect of case transfer, we are not aware of any evidence that suggests moving an individual from Carer’s Allowance to Carer Support Payment would in itself create any particular inequalities for this protected characteristic. We are considering how communications and signposting to support can be tailored for clients with underlying entitlement to the benefit to enhance their experience of the case transfer process. Our case transfer notifications that carers with underlying entitlement receive will highlight the benefit of having this type of award in getting extra amounts in other benefits. These notifications will also signpost carers to extra support and advice available to them in order to support them in their caring role.


We have identified no negative impacts in relation to the protected characteristic of disability through the introduction of Carer Support Payment. We have identified some positive impacts.

A high proportion of carers are themselves disabled, with some analysis suggesting the figure is as high as half[90]. Many of these are older carers. And, because of the close relationship between carers and the cared for person, we expect improvements we make in social security support for carers to have a positive impact on the disabled people being cared for, a large proportion of whom will also be over pension age. This is partly through increasing the well-being of the person providing them with informal care, and partly through increased household incomes where, as will be common, the carer lives in the same household as the cared for person. We know that disabled people are more likely to live in the bottom half of income deciles, so it is vital that people do not miss out all the payments available to them.

Our benefit take-up strategy has a strong focus on addressing barriers faced by this group. As well as targeted communication, work in this area includes the provision of free and independent advocacy for disabled people looking to access Social Security Scotland assistance. This service supports disabled people to have their voice heard, express their views, and feel understood. The service is available to anyone who identifies as having a disability and requires additional support to communicate. We have also funded welfare advice in accessible settings, including our Welfare Advice and Health Partnerships – placing money advisors in 180 GP practices in Scotland’s most deprived areas, as well as remote and rural communities. This advice service is bringing advice and support to places people already go, rather than expecting them to seek access to an additional service.

Accessible formats, adaptions and support will be available to ensure all eligible carers have the opportunity to apply for the benefit, and all processes will be underpinned by dignity, fairness and respect. To develop the system for Carer Support Payment, we have undertaken extensive User Research with carers with a range of disabilities, building on work undertaken in the development of our disability benefits. This has resulted in, for example, development of notifications to the cared for person to ensure that they are aware of their data being processed for the purposes of a Carer Support Payment claim and to ensure that they understand the impact on their benefits.

We know that applying for benefits can be particularly challenging for people with learning disabilities, with applicants reporting feeling overwhelmed, finding communications difficult to understand, and even experiencing discrimination in their previous applications. People employed by Social Security Scotland are required to undertake equality training in line with our commitment to delivering a service based on the values of dignity, fairness and respect. Communication will reflect what we have learned through our engagement with disabled carers, for example, online support and guidance tested with people with learning disabilities for those who prefer to use this method of application. Training and guidance for operational staff will make it clear that having a disability, including a learning disability, has no bearing whatsoever on eligibility for Carer Support Payment.

When Carer Support Payment is up and running we will take feedback from carers with all protected characteristics to identify and address any barriers, seeking to continuously improve our training, guidance and processes to deliver our aim to design Carer Support Payment to ensure carers have a positive experience of Social Security Scotland, and to maximise carers’ take up of all the support available to them.

Evidence from User Research reinforces the need to ensure communications signpost carers to wider support, including mental health support. Carers will be signposted to information on further financial support, wellbeing support, and support to take breaks from care. The existing Local Delivery function will also be promoted to ensure carers with disabilities are aware that face-to-face appointments would be available in outreach locations as well as at home or virtually.

As well as work to increase take up, future plans to increase the amount of money available through Carer Support Payment can help address income inequality. This includes, for example, increasing run-on periods, increasing the earnings threshold and the Carer’s Additional Person Payment.

We intend that the features set out above will reduce some of the stress associated with taking on an intensive caring role, and so help mitigate any negative impacts of caring which come on top of existing challenges faced by many disabled people.

Carer Support Payment will be paid to people who are caring for someone in receipt of specified disability benefits. Information on the benefits of the person being cared for will be accessed in order to award Carer Support Payment as where the cared for person is receiving additional amounts in their means-tested benefits, these can be affected by a carer’s receipt of Carer Support Payment.

The application process for Carer Support Payment will make clear to carers the importance of discussing their application with the person they care for, where possible, and the potential impacts of Carer Support Payment award on the benefits of the person they care for. When an application is received a notification will be sent to the person they care for to inform them that their data has been accessed for the application. This will inform them about the potential impacts of a Carer Support Payment award on their benefits, and their right to contact Social Security Scotland if they disagree with the application or that the applicant is providing care for them. A Carer Support Payment application may be denied, or an ongoing award set to £0 where a person named on the application disputes that care is being provided. Regulations and processes for ‘rival carer’ situations, where more than one person has applied for Carer Support Payment in respect of care provided to the same person, will also require that the best interests of the cared for person are taken into account in decisions on who should be awarded support, where there is no agreement between the carers.

Case transfer

It is expected that Carer Support Payment and the case transfer process will have a direct and indirect positive impact on those with disability, directly due to the high proportion of carers that have a long-term health condition, and indirectly by helping those they care for.

As part of the transfer process, the cared for person, who will be in receipt of a qualifying disability benefit, will be informed that their carer’s benefit is transferring and that their data is being used as part of this transfer. This will also provide signposting to further information about the transfer process, ensuring that the cared for person’s data rights are upheld and any questions or concerns they have about the transfer process are answered.


We have not identified any negative impacts on people with this characteristic as a result of this policy. We have identified some positive impacts.

We know that communities within this group may be less likely to identify as a carer (particularly amongst carers of southeast Asian heritage and within gypsy/traveller communities), have less awareness of financial and wider support for carers to which they are entitled, and face language and literacy barriers. Within some BAME communities, there can be reluctance to seek assistance in order to ‘hide’ the existence of disability within the family, and a reluctance to contact social security services unless they are in very challenging financial difficulties.

Carers from a range of ethnic backgrounds have been involved in User Research to design the application process for Carer Support Payment. This will help ensure that the systems and support available addresses these issues and meets the needs of clients with this characteristic. And, as with other protected characteristics, once the benefit is up and running, Social Security Scotland will continue to improve understanding of issues facing specific communities, such as Black Asian Minority Ethnic women and gypsy/travellers, to continue to inform communication plans, take up materials and activities, and staff training and guidance. Approaches will draw on best practice from take-up initiatives and campaigns undertaken across Scotland and elsewhere in the United Kingdom.

As is being done with our disability benefits, Social Security Scotland communications will work with community radio and foreign language press to promote Carer Support Payment to particular communities. In some circumstances printed marketing materials may not be the right way to engage with these communities and where this is the case, we will look to alternatives, working with Social Security Scotland’s National Stakeholder Engagement and Local Delivery functions.

We know from work on other benefits that gypsy/travellers may be less likely to have a bank account than other groups. As well as Post Office and Credit Union accounts, Social Security Scotland payments can be made using iMovo which is a secure digital voucher system that can be delivered to individuals in several media (SMS, email). These can be redeemed at multiple PayPoint outlets in Scotland. This has also been found to be useful for young adults who have not yet opened a bank account.

As set out in detail in previous sections in relation to other characteristics, linking carers with this protected characteristic to wider relevant services and opportunities, and changes to provide greater stability, increase the amount of money available to carers and increase opportunities for education and paid employment can deliver positive impacts – helping reduce some of the stresses associated with intensive caring roles, and so help mitigate any negative impacts of caring which come on top of dealing with wider societal racial discrimination.

Sexual Orientation and Gender Reassignment

We do not have a breakdown of evidence that distinguishes between sexual orientation and gender reassignment, so at this time will use evidence on the combined characteristics. We will seek to address this gap in future.

We have not identified any negative impacts in relation to these protected characteristics as a result of Carer Support Payment or the transfer of entitlement from Carer's Allowance to Carer Support Payment. We have identified some positive impacts.

We anticipate that the introduction of Carer Support Payment will impact positively by increasing take up and engaging with people with these characteristics in a proactively inclusive way. People with these protected characteristics may feel less confidence in services, with concerns that they cannot be open about their sexual orientation/gender identity or their relationship with the person they care for, or that they may face discrimination due to previous negative experiences[91]. Many LGBT carers or the LGBT people they are caring for may have reduced social networks due to a lack of acceptance of their sexual orientation or gender identity, which can result in accessing less support than other carers. [92]

As set out earlier, people employed by Social Security Scotland are required to undertake equality training in-line with our commitment to delivering a service based on the values of dignity, fairness and respect. Agency staff will be recruited who embody values of dignity and respect and all training for new staff will include LGBT+ awareness and be underpinned by human rights principles.

Social Security Scotland will engage with representative organisations in developing its targeted communications and seek input from LGBT+ carers to seek to make a range of sexual identities visible in promotional materials.

In terms of transgender applicants, our application processes already follow good practice in not asking any applicant to identify as only male or female, and this will be reflected in the case transfer process for existing clients.

We are committed to increasing our knowledge base in respect of carers with this protected characteristic, with work already underway in this area.

Marriage and Civil Partnership

We have not identified any particular barriers affecting people with the protected characteristic of marriage or civil partnership.

We recognise the lack of evidence available in respect of this characteristic and will seek to remedy this in ongoing policy development.

Religion and Belief

We have not identified any negative impacts on people with this protected characteristic as a result of Carer Support Payment or transfer of awards from Carer's Allowance to Carer Support Payment.

However, this is based on little evidence, as there is very little data available on how religion and belief may affect carers. While participants in our Experience Panels highlighted that carers from different religions can be impacted diversely because of cultural differences, and ideas about what constitutes being a carer and language barriers, it is not clear how these are necessarily specific to religion and belief, as opposed to race.



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