Disability assistance in Scotland: response to consultation

Our response to the consultation analysis report about the consultation on disability assistance undertaken between 5 March and 28 May 2019.

3. Section 2 - Disability Assistance for Children and Young People in Scotland (DACYP)

Section 2 of the consultation focused on Disability payments for children and young people. Currently DWP deliver Disability Living Allowance for children from age 3 months to age 16.

3.1 Policy Proposal – Entitlement to DACYP

We know that under the current administration of Disability Living Allowance for Children, many people are broadly content with the rules of the benefit but find accessing and applying for the benefit challenging. Our proposals ensure that the application process is simpler, with appropriate support and guidance for the disabled people and their families to embed accessibility within the application and awards process for DACYP.

The Scottish Government intends that the eligibility criteria for DACYP will be broadly similar to Disability Living Allowance for children. The consultation paper set out examples of when the rates of care and mobility payments would be payable.

Respondent Feedback

The majority of respondents (73% who answered) were content with the proposed eligibility rules for the care and mobility components and rates. Key themes that emerged from respondent feedback about the current rules indicated that there are problems where:

  • The child or young person has mental health issues;
  • The impact of some conditions (e.g. sickle cell anaemia) being poorly understood by assessors; and
  • Assuming that conditions only fluctuate by day or by night (rather than looking at a condition more broadly).

Scottish Government Response

We are mindful of what we have been told about the proposed eligibility criteria for DACYP. When developing regulations and decision-making guidance for Disability Assistance we will work closely with the Disability and Carers Benefits Expert Advisory Group, key stakeholders and continue to involve those with experience of the current system. This approach to co-design is ambitious and bold, because we want to ensure that we take account of the types of difficulties children and young people face that respondents to the consultation felt might be missed, and this is an important priority for us.

The Scottish Government will not require children and young people to undergo a face-to-face assessment, and will instead make decisions based on existing support information. We realise that this may not fully capture all needs, so Case Managers will have access to Specialist Advisors.

The Specialist Advisor can provide the Case Manager with information and advice based on their experience of working in health or social care on a number of issues: the side effects of a particular medication; how a specific disability generally impacts children; or the way in which two different conditions may interact.

Where a Case Manager still needs information to make a decision, the Case Manager will engage with a child or young person’s parent or guardian, and the discussion will help Case Managers reach a fully informed decision. We believe that this offers a significant improvement over the current system, where gaps in the information available may not be fully explored or handled as well as they could be.

3.2 Policy Proposal – Young People Aged 16-18

We know that many disabled young people transition between child and adult services at around the time they turn 16 and our proposals to extend the age of entitlement to age 18, will ensure that they will continue to receive DACYP, reducing the anxiety and challenges at this difficult time for families. This is a departure from the current system where, at age 16, young people and their families must apply for Personal Independence Payments or payment of their disability benefit will cease.

The consultation set out the Scottish Government’s intention to provide Disability Assistance to children and young people from 3 months to age 18. This change from age 16 to age 18 will be introduced to mitigate the numerous transitional difficulties experienced by young people and their families at age 16.

Another new aspect to providing this Disability payment will be the introduction of a Winter Heating Payment for children and young people in receipt of the highest rate of care. The Scottish Government asked for views on the proposed payment of £200 to eligible families.

Respondent Feedback

There was consensus amongst respondents who agreed (92% of those who answered) with the proposal to change the current age eligibility to include young people already receiving DACYP before their sixteenth birthday, up to age 18. However, a small number of respondents felt that the Scottish Government should extend eligibility beyond age 18.

A few respondents (5% of those who answered) disagreed with our proposals that clients applying for Disability Assistance for the first time aged 16 or over will apply for working age benefit (PIP) initially with DWP, until Social Security Scotland commences delivery of Disability Assistance for Working Age People (DAWAP).

Scottish Government Response

We understand that the transition from Disability Living Allowance for children and Personal Independence Payment can be a difficult time for families, with approximately one third of clients who move from DLA to PIP receiving no award of benefit. This can be a source of considerable anxiety and uncertainty, and we feel that our policy will help to remove the ‘cliff-edge’ of losing entitlement to Disability Assistance at a difficult time for families.

Although we understand that having a single upper age limit for all DACYP cases offers simplicity, there are certain drawbacks. Allowing new claims for DACYP from 16 or 17 year olds introduces the possibility that a family of a young person would require to navigate the application and desk-based assessment process for DACYP and then, within a matter of months, require to navigate separate processes for DAWAP once the young person approaches 18. Rather than mitigating difficult transitional issues experienced by the family, this policy change would potentially introduce further confusion.

Whilst the Scottish Government will not extend the age limit for new DACYP claims beyond 18, a majority of respondents to the consultation agreed with our approach.

3.3 Policy Proposal – Winter Heating Assistance

We know that for children and young people with the most complex disabilities, it is vital that throughout the Winter months, they are able to keep warm and to ensure that their household remains at a consistent temperature. We will introduce Winter Heating Assistance, an annual payment of £200, to ensure that families of disabled people, and young people themselves, can heat their home as they require.

The Scottish Government proposed in the consultation a proposal to provide Winter Heating Assistance (WHA) payments from April 2020, for any family living in Scotland with a child who is in receipt of the higher rate component of Disability Assistance for Children and Young People or, where they live independently, young people themselves.

Respondent Feedback

A large majority of respondents (79% who answered) agreed with the proposal to provide a Winter Heating Assistance to families of children and young people in receipt of the highest rate of care. Some respondents felt it would be appropriate to provide a Winter Heating Payment to all people in receipt of disability payments. Further views provided on the Winter Heating Payment included:

  • Children and young people on the middle rate care component of DACYP (and upwards) should be eligible (middle rate has a significant impact on the need for heat including for example asthma or bronchitis sufferers);
  • Eligibility should be means tested i.e. based on income or family finances. Those on the highest rate care component are not necessarily at the greatest risk of poverty;
  • There is no need for a blanket payment as it may not be needed by all;
  • Those on the higher rate mobility component should be eligible (more prone to feeling the cold as they are immobile);
  • Eligibility should be extended to those of working or pension age and;
  • Eligibility should be extended for families receiving the DLA highest rate care component during any transition period.

Scottish Government Feedback

We intend to introduce the Winter Heating Payment to children in receipt of the highest rate of care once we commence delivering Disability Assistance for Children and Young People in summer 2020. Our position is that we will not introduce means-testing for the Winter Heating Payment, as we are committed to no means-testing for disability assistance more generally.

Children and Young People in receipt of the highest rate of care of DACYP will usually require frequent help and supervision during both the day and at night. We want to make both their and their families’ day-to-day life easier by ensuring they receive help towards their winter heating costs. We forecast that the number of families that will benefit from the change will be approximately 16,000 in 2020-21. The cost of the proposed change in 2020-2021 is anticipated to be £3.5m and will be fully funded by the Scottish Government.



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