3. Will there be different impacts on different groups of children and young people?
Under the UNCRC, 'children' can refer to: individual children, groups of children, or children in general. Some groups of children will relate to the groups with protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010: disability, race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation. 'Groups' can also refer to children by age band or setting, or those who are eligible for special protection or assistance.
We expect that it will be more likely that young people aged 16 and 17 will be impacted by this policy. This is because children who are under 16 and eligible for disability assistance are generally not responsible for communicating directly with the Tribunal during an appeal. Instead it is generally a parent, guardian or appointee who makes the application on behalf of the child, who receives communications about the child's disability benefit, and who communicates with the Tribunal during an appeal on the child's behalf. They can therefore ensure that any information that could cause the child serious physical or mental harm is not shared with the child during an appeal.
As this policy will give the First-tier Tribunal and Upper Tribunal a discretionary power to issue a direction prohibiting the disclosure of a document or information to a person if it will cause serious harm to the physical or mental health of the recipient or some other person, it is expected that people in receipt of disability assistance will be the most likely to be affected. It is also more likely to impact on children and young people whose parent/individual with legal parental responsibilities are in receipt of Disability Assistance. This is because applications for disability assistance generally include consideration of a person's physical or mental health, while applications for other devolved benefits such as the Five Family Payments do not include consideration of a person's physical or mental health.
It is possible that this policy could impact more on male children under 16 than on female children under 16. As of August 2021, there was 30,246 male clients and 13,204 female clients under the age of 16 on Disability Living Allowance, corresponding to 69.6% of the caseload being male.
It is possible that this policy will impact more on young people who have a terminal diagnosis. This is because a registered medical practitioner or registered nurse may consider that information about, for example, a malignant diagnosis should not be disclosed to the young person or to the recipient, if the recipient is their parent or person with legal parental responsibilities. In January 2022, there were 305,279 people entitled to Personal Independence Payment in Scotland; including 2,176 16 and 17 year olds. 3,236 of the 305,279 claims were processed under DWP special rules for terminally ill people.
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