Publication - Research and analysis

Consultation on regulations and statutory guidance under the Welfare Funds (Scotland) Act 2015: Analysis of Responses

Published: 17 Dec 2015
ISBN:
9781785448843

Report on responses to the consultation on regulations and statutory guidance under the Welfare Funds (Scotland) Act 2015.

Consultation on regulations and statutory guidance under the Welfare Funds (Scotland) Act 2015: Analysis of Responses
8 VULNERABILITIES (Q14 AND Q15)

8 VULNERABILITIES (Q14 AND Q15)

8.1 As set out in Section 5.11 of the draft statutory guidance, the assessment process for an application to the SWF should take into account the vulnerability of the applicant and the likely consequences of refusal. Annex C of the draft statutory guidance lists some examples of vulnerabilities which would give applications a higher priority. (Examples include: frailty or old age; learning difficulties; being a lone parent; being an ex-offender; children living with a disabled adult; etc.). The draft statutory guidance explains that the list at Annex C is illustrative rather than exhaustive, should not be applied rigidly, and can – in relation to a specific application – change over time.

8.2 Questions 14-15 of the consultation asked whether the list of vulnerabilities provided at Annex C should be changed (either to add to or remove things from the list).

Question 14: Is there anything on the list of vulnerabilities at Annex C of the draft statutory guidance that you don’t think should be there? (Yes / No)

If yes, please tell us what and explain why.

Question 15: Is there anything that you think should be added to the list of vulnerabilities at Annex C of the draft statutory guidance? (Yes / No)

If yes, please tell us what situation, condition or circumstance should be added to the list of vulnerabilities and why.

8.3 Tables 8.1 below shows that just under one-third of respondents (28%) thought that one or more vulnerabilities listed at Annex C should be removed, while Table 8.2 shows that just over one-third of respondents (38%) thought that one or more vulnerabilities should be added to the list. Local authorities were more likely than all other groups to think that one or more vulnerabilities should be removed. In addition, both local authorities and third sector organisations were more likely than other groups to think that one or more vulnerabilities should be added to the list.

Table 8.1: Is there anything on the list of vulnerabilities at Annex C of the draft statutory guidance that you don’t think should be there?

Yes

No

Total

Local government

7

41%

10

59%

17

100%

Third sector / equality organisations

3

21%

11

79%

14

100%

Housing organisations

1

14%

6

86%

7

100%

Other organisational respondents

1

25%

3

75%

4

100%

Individuals

2

25%

6

75%

8

100%

Total

14

28%

36

72%

50

100%

Table 8.2: Is there anything that you think should be added to the list of vulnerabilities at Annex C of the draft statutory guidance?

Yes

No

Total

Local government

8

44%

10

56%

18

100%

Third sector / equality organisations

7

54%

6

46%

13

100%

Housing organisations

2

29%

5

71%

7

100%

Other organisational respondents

1

25%

3

75%

4

100%

Individuals

1

13%

7

88%

8

100%

Total

19

38%

31

62%

50

100%

8.4 Altogether 19 respondents (16 organisations and 3 individuals) provided a comment at Question 14 and 24 respondents (23 organisations and 1 individual) provided a comment at Question 15. Most of those who commented had answered ‘yes’ to the tick-box part of these questions.

Issues requiring clarification

8.5 Respondents raised a number of issues for clarification as follows:

  • More guidance was required on the appeals process (especially in relation to appeals for those with vulnerabilities)
  • The statutory guidance needed to be clear that just because an applicant belongs to one of the groups listed at Annex C it does not automatically mean that they would be classified as ‘vulnerable’.
  • ‘Homelessness or repeated homelessness’ should include the threat of homelessness.

Suggestions on wording

8.6 There were suggestions for changes to the wording as follows:

  • ‘Mental health impairments’ to be reworded as ‘mental health issues’
  • ‘People fleeing domestic violence’ to be reworded as ‘people fleeing domestic abuse’ or ‘people fleeing violence / harassment’
  • ‘Frailty or old age, particularly restricted mobility or difficulty performing personal care tasks’ to be reworded as ‘frailty or old age’
  • ‘Having responsibility as a main care giver’ to be reworded as ‘having responsibility as an unpaid carer’

Removals from the list of vulnerabilities at Annex C

8.7 Two items on the list at Annex C attracted multiple suggestions for removal. These were: ‘a history of seasonal temporary or insecure work’ and ‘setting up an independent home for the first time’. The reason given was the same for both: namely, that these factors do not in themselves make applicants vulnerable. Indeed, respondents argued that both of these scenarios represented (potentially) positive situations. It would be for the local authority to judge whether these applicants were vulnerable on the basis of other factors.

8.8 Four other items on the list were suggested for removal, less often. These were: ‘children with parents under 25’; ‘leaving the armed forces’; ‘repeated failed tenancies’; and ‘ex-offenders’. Again, these factors were not seen in and of themselves as necessarily making an applicant vulnerable; the applicant’s vulnerability would have to be assessed in relation to other criteria.

Additions to the list of vulnerabilities at Annex C

8.9 The main additional categories which respondents highlighted for inclusion on the list of vulnerabilities were: young people experiencing a range of difficulties relating to their previous or current care; people affected by the recent death of a close relative; recent relationship breakdown; and victims / survivors of a traumatic event or abuse.

8.10 Other additions, each mentioned by one respondent only were: people with poor literacy and / or numeracy skills; people earning less than the average wage; people returning to employment; a family facing exceptional pressure[3]; a family with a child on the Child Protection register; fleeing non-domestic violence (e.g. a neighbour); families with children who are looked after at home; young school leavers (aged 16-18); young carers; and households with babies and young children.

8.11 The rationale for including these groups was that these circumstances would increase the vulnerability of the individual and mean that they were more likely to face adverse outcomes.


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Email: Will Tyler