The terms of Part 3 of the Scotland Act 2016 gave effect to some of the recommendations of the Smith Commission and provided for the devolution of a range of social security benefits to the Scottish Government.
Following on from this, the Social Security (Scotland) Act 2018 was a major piece of devolved legislation and the first Act passed by the Scottish Parliament dealing with social security matters. It lays the foundations for the delivery of a range of benefits that will be devolved to Scotland, and represents a substantial extension of the reach and impact of devolved legislation. It covers key areas of social security such as Disability Living Allowance and Personal Independence Payments, as well as aspects of the regulated social fund such as funeral payments and Sure Start maternity benefits. Responsibility for Universal Credit remains reserved to the UK Government, although the Scottish Parliament has been given the power to create new benefits and to top-up reserved benefits.
The Social Security (Scotland) Act 2018 was passed by the Scottish Parliament with the aim of helping to create a fairer Scotland, with a new social security system based on public consultation and Parliamentary scrutiny.
Social Security Scotland was established in April 2018 to deliver devolved benefits in Scotland. It is an Executive Agency of the Scottish Government and its purpose is to administer the Scottish social security system effectively, in accordance with the principles of the Act and the Social Security Charter. When the organisation becomes fully operational, it will administer a total of 14 benefits, supporting 1.4 million people and providing around £3.5 billion in payments every year. The organisation currently delivers Carer’s Allowance Supplement and Best Start Grants (including Pregnancy and Baby Payment, Early Learning Payment and School Age Payment).
Extensive planning is already underway for Social Security Scotland to deliver Best Start Foods, Funeral Support Payment, Young Carers Grant and Job Grants in 2019, and it will begin taking new claims for Disability Assistance, starting with Disability Assistance for Children and Young People, in summer 2020. These are complex benefits as they involve regular payments to individuals, although individuals’ circumstances may change and Social Security Scotland will have to be able to respond quickly to adjust payments. It can be complex identifying eligibility for any benefit and involves verification of identity, evidence gathering and sophisticated decision-making. The Scottish Government is legally required to introduce a system which is fair, open and transparent, and with a rights-based approach.
On 5 March 2019 the Scottish Government published a consultation – Improving Disability Assistance in Scotland – and this set out the Scottish Government’s current policy assumptions for three forms of Disability Assistance:
- From Summer 2020 – Disability Assistance for Children and Young People (DACYP): This will replace Disability Living Allowance for Children, which is currently administered by the Department for Work and Pensions. The Scottish Government proposes that the age criteria will be set between 3 months and 16 years, or 18 where a young person is in receipt of this form of assistance before they turn 16.
- By Early 2021 – Disability Allowance for Working-Age People (DAWAP): This will replace Personal Independence Payment, which is also administered by the Department for Work and Pensions. The Scottish Government proposes that the age criteria will be for adults below State Pension age.
Summer 2021 – Disability Allowance for Older People (DAOP): This will replace Attendance Allowance, which again is administered by the Department for Work and Pensions. The Scottish Government proposes to align the age criteria with the State Pension age.
The consultation sought the views of all people, including individuals with lived experience or a working knowledge of social security (in particular disability benefits and experience of the application process). Feedback from this consultation will go towards informing the drafting of regulations for each form of assistance. The Scottish Commission on Social Security (SCoSS) has now been established, and part of its role is to scrutinise the Disability Assistance regulations, which will be drafted based on this feedback. The consultation was launched on 5 March 2019 and closed on 28 May 2019.
2.2 Respondent Profile
In total, there were 263 responses to the consultation, of which 74 were from organisations and 189 from individuals.
Respondents were assigned to respondent groupings in order to enable analysis of any differences or commonalities across or within the various different types of organisations and individuals that responded.
A list of all those organisations that submitted a response to the consultation and agreed to have their name published is included in Appendix 1.
As Table 2 overleaf shows, the largest organisation sub-group was Third Sector organisations with 40 responses.
Table 2: Respondent Groups
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Responses to the consultation were submitted using the Scottish Government consultation platform Citizen Space, or by email or hard copy. The Scottish Government also held a number of consultation events. Many of the issues raised at the consultation events were also raised in consultation responses, so these are not reported on separately; rather, they are referred to, where relevant, at each of the questions in this report.
The excel file output from Citizen Space formed the basis of this analysis. This excel file included respondent details from the Respondent Information Form including confidentiality details; responses to each question; and any additional information supplied by the respondent. Any responses submitted via other channels such as email or hard copy were entered into the excel file at the appropriate question(s). In this way, all responses were included in the analysis and reporting.
It should be borne in mind that the number responding at each question is not always the same as the number presented in the respondent group table. This is because some respondents did not answer every question. This report indicates the number of respondents who commented at each question.
A number of organisations referred to research or engagement undertaken and were incorporated into their response.
Where respondents did not complete each closed question but mentioned clearly within their text that they agreed or disagreed with one of the options, these have been included in the relevant counts.
The researchers examined all comments made by respondents and noted the range of issues mentioned in responses, including reasons for opinions, specific examples or explanations, alternative suggestions or other comments. Grouping these issues together into similar themes allowed the researchers to identify whether any particular theme was specific to any particular respondent group or groups.
The views presented in this analysis have not been vetted in any way for factual accuracy. The opinions and comments submitted to the consultation may be based on fact or may, indeed, be based on what respondents perceive to be accurate, but which others may interpret differently. It is important for the analysis to represent views from all perspectives. The report may, therefore, contain analysis of responses that may be factually inaccurate or based on misunderstanding or misinformation, but nevertheless reflect strongly held views. In some instances, such inaccuracies and misunderstandings will be relevant findings in themselves.
In the analysis of responses to the consultation, only those who disagreed with the proposals that were presented were asked to provide supportive commentary, although small numbers of those agreeing with each proposal also provided some commentary. As such, while a majority of respondents were supportive of all the proposals under consideration, commentary tends to focus on reasons for disagreement and allied improvements, changes or modifications that respondents would like to see.
When considering group differences however, it must also be recognised that where a specific opinion has been identified in relation to a particular group or groups, this does not indicate that other groups did not share this opinion.
While the consultation gave all who wished to comment an opportunity to do so, given the self-selecting nature of this type of exercise, any figures quoted here cannot be extrapolated more widely.
A small number of verbatim comments, from those who gave permission for their responses to be made public, have been used in the report to illustrate themes or to provide extra detail for some specific points.
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