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
7 EXCLUSIONS FROM CRISIS AND COMMUNITY CARE GRANTS

7 EXCLUSIONS FROM CRISIS AND COMMUNITY CARE GRANTS

7.1 The draft regulations state that a person should not be awarded a CCG or a CG for a range of excluded needs, and these are set out in Annex A of the draft statutory guidance. There are 19 separate ‘excluded needs’ listed in Annex A. In most cases, alternative sources of assistance are identified.

7.2 The exclusions are wide ranging, and cover specific items (e.g. a television or radio, school uniform, dental treatment, medication) as well as more general categories of items (e.g. holidays, funeral costs, work-related expenses). The consultation asked four questions (Questions 10-13) about the list of excluded items.

Specific additions to the list of exclusions (Q10 and Q11)

7.3 The first two of these questions (Questions 10-11) asked if respondents agreed that two specific items should be added to the list of exclusions.

Question 10: Do you agree that substantial improvements to private property should be added to the list of excluded items at Annex A of the draft statutory guidance? (Yes / No)

If not, please explain why.

Question 11: Do you agree that repatriation costs should be added to the list of excluded items at Annex A of the draft statutory guidance? (Yes / No)

If not, please explain why.

7.4 Tables 7.1 and 7.2 below show that in both cases, a substantial majority of respondents (71% in the case of substantial improvements to private property and 79% in the case of repatriation costs) favoured adding these items to the list of exclusions. For both items, local authorities and housing organisations were more likely to favour adding them to the list of exclusions. By contrast, third sector organisations and ‘Other’ organisational respondents were less likely to favour adding these items to the list of exclusions in both cases. In the case of substantial improvements to private property, less than one-third of third sector organisations thought that this should be an excluded item.

Table 7.1: Do you agree that substantial improvements to private property should be added to the list of excluded items of the draft statutory guidance?

Yes

No

Total

Local government

17

94%

1

6%

18

100%

Third sector / equality organisations

4

31%

9

69%

13

100%

Housing organisations

7

88%

1

13%

8

100%

Other organisational respondents

1

25%

3

75%

4

100%

Individuals

7

88%

1

13%

8

100%

Total

36

71%

15

29%

51

100%

Table 7.2: Do you agree that repatriation costs should be added to the list of excluded items of the draft statutory guidance?

Yes

No

Total

Local government

16

89%

2

11%

18

100%

Third sector / equality organisations

6

67%

3

33%

9

100%

Housing organisations

8

100%

0%

8

100%

Other organisational respondents

1

25%

3

75%

4

100%

Individuals

6

75%

2

25%

8

100%

Total

37

79%

10

21%

47

100%

7.5 Altogether 29 respondents (28 organisations and 1 individual) commented at Question 10, and 22 respondents (20 organisations and 2 individuals) made comments at Question 11. In both cases, about half of those who provided comments had ticked the ‘yes’ option in the first part of the question.

Definitional Issues

7.6 In a small number of cases, the respondents’ comments appeared to contradict their answer to the ‘yes / no’ question. It may be that the complexity of the question (asking whether respondents agreed with adding an item to a list of excluded items) was a cause of confusion for a few respondents.

7.7 As far as Question 10 was concerned, respondents sometimes asked, ‘what is the definition of a substantial improvement?’ Moreover, it was clear from their answers that some respondents had (mistakenly) assumed that the ‘private property’ referred to in the question referred to owner occupiers only; the consultation paper explained that private rented properties were also included in this category.

Arguments in favour of exclusion

7.8 The main argument made in favour of adding both ‘substantial improvements to private property’ and ‘repatriation costs’ to the list of exclusions was that the SWF was not an appropriate vehicle for funding these items. In both cases, respondents identified sources of funding which they thought were both available and appropriate.

7.9 In the case of improvements to homes in the private rented sector, respondents said that this was the responsibility of landlords. In the case of owner occupied homes it was suggested that improvement grants might be available; alternatively re-mortgaging might be a possibility.[2] Respondents identified specific organisations (Care and Repair, Shelter Scotland) and schemes (local authority ‘Scheme of Assistance’ and ‘Help to Adapt’) that were able to provide support in these cases. In the case of repatriation costs, respondents thought that these costs should be paid by embassies, consulates, the Home Office or the government more generally.

7.10 It was thought that if repatriation costs were not added to the list of exclusions, the costs for local authorities could become very expensive as larger and larger numbers applied to the Fund. The administration costs for local authorities would also increase.

Arguments against exclusion

7.11 Three main arguments were made for why adding (either of) these items to the list of exclusions was not appropriate.

7.12 First, respondents affirmed the importance of preserving the discretion of local authorities. It was thought that although awards for these items would only be made on rare occasions, the local authority should be free to make awards in ‘exceptional circumstances’. This point was often linked to a recognition that the SWF was not an ideal – or even a good – vehicle for paying for these items; other sources of funding existed and were probably more appropriate. However, blanket exclusions were thought to be undesirable, and sometimes applicants had no alternative but to apply to the SWF.

7.13 Second, respondents highlighted the potential consequences for applicants of removing the possibility of obtaining a grant from SWF for these items. These could include (in both cases): removing the chance for an applicant to have a ‘settled home’, increasing the possibility that an applicant would become homeless and, more generally, increasing the chance of an emergency / crisis situation developing. In addition, in relation to Question 10, respondents also identified consequences related to the applicant’s health and wellbeing (linked to the harmful effects of living in a damp property), and in putting greater demand on the (already pressurised) social rented sector. One of the respondents to the Easy Read consultation thought that if a household had young children, it would be appropriate to award a CCG to install central heating in the property.

7.14 Third, respondents argued that retaining the possibility of an application to the Fund for these items could represent value for money. This might be because – in the case of Question 10 – expenditure on a (small) repair now could save money in the longer term, or because – in the case of Question 11 – it might reduce pressure on other local authority services.

7.15 A fourth argument was brought forward in relation to Question 10 only. This was that adapting properties for use by disabled people (including those with learning disabilities) represented an important long term investment in the housing stock. Respondents thought this possibility should be retained for cases where no other source of funding was available.

7.16 There was a suggestion that a ‘clawback’ system could be put in place for cases where any investment in a private property resulted in an increased value to a property which was subsequently sold on.

Changes to the current list of excluded items (Q12 and Q13)

7.17 The second two questions in this section (Questions 12-13) asked whether respondents would wish any changes to be made to the current list of excluded items.

Question 12: Do you think there should be any other items added to the list of excluded items in Annex A of the draft statutory guidance? (Yes / No)

If yes, please tell us which items and explain why.

Question 13: Do you think there should be any items taken off the list of excluded items in Annex A of the draft statutory guidance? (Yes / No)

If yes, please tell us which items and explain why.

7.18 Tables 7.3 and 7.4 below show that a small proportion of respondents wished to see changes (17% for additions and 29% for deletions) to the current list of excluded items. Those wishing to include additional items were almost exclusively local authorities; no third sector, housing organisations or ‘Other’ organisational respondents suggested items to be added. As far as removals were concerned, third sector and ‘Other’ organisational respondents were more likely to think that some items should be removed from the current list (46% and 75% respectively) compared with local authorities and housing organisations (22% and 0% respectively).

Table 7.3: Do you think there should be any other items added to the list of excluded items in Annex A of the draft statutory guidance?

Yes

No

Total

Local government

7

41%

10

59%

17

100%

Third sector / equality organisations

0%

12

100%

12

100%

Housing organisations

0%

7

100%

7

100%

Other organisational respondents

0%

4

100%

4

100%

Individuals

1

13%

7

88%

8

100%

Total

8

17%

40

83%

48

100%

Table 7.4: Do you think there should be any items taken off the list of excluded items in Annex A of the draft statutory guidance?

Yes

No

Total

Local government

4

22%

14

78%

18

100%

Third sector / equality organisations

6

46%

7

54%

13

100%

Housing organisations

0%

8

100%

8

100%

Other organisational respondents

3

75%

1

25%

4

100%

Individuals

2

25%

6

75%

8

100%

Total

15

29%

36

71%

51

100%

7.19 Nine respondents (8 organisations and 1 individual) provided comments at Question 12. Nineteen respondents (17 organisations and 2 individuals) provided comments at Question 13.

Suggestions for items to be added to the current list of exclusions

7.20 Eight suggestions were made for items to be added to the current list of exclusions. One of the suggestions related to an eligibility requirement, i.e. that illegal immigrants from EU or member states should not be eligible to apply to the Fund. The other suggestions were: costs related to family members not resident in the UK; repair costs to items provided by the NHS; gardening tools; decorating costs; house cleans; charges in relation to being made bankrupt; and service charges linked to rent payments. One respondent to the Easy Read consultation suggested that ‘any luxury’ should be on the list of exclusions.

7.21 There were no reasons provided for these additions beyond general statements that they were non-essential or not appropriate for the SWF.

Suggestions for items to be removed from the current list of exclusions

7.22 It was suggested, usually by fewer than five respondents, that the following items should be removed from the current list of exclusions:

  • Educational or training needs
  • (Travelling expenses) in connection with court proceedings
  • Removal or storage charges
  • Television or radio
  • Debts
  • Domestic assistance and respite care
  • Work related expenses (including work related travel costs)
  • Travelling expenses
  • Maternity expenses covered by Sure Start Grant
  • Funeral expenses
  • Expenses for people who have no recourse to public funds.

7.23 The reasons offered for removing these were mainly that respondents felt there might not be any alternative sources of support for these items, and that they were important in ameliorating difficult situations.


Contact

Email: Will Tyler