4. Section 5(1)(b)(iii) - social security support for carers
4.1 Section 5(1)(b)(iii) requires Ministers to provide their view of the effect of the Extension and Expiry Act on social security support available for carers.
4.2 By virtue of section 5(2)(c), the report must include information on the social security support to help carers put in place for a reason related to Covid-19 and any plans for further social security support to help carers the Scottish Ministers propose to put in place for such a reason.
Coronavirus Carer's Allowance Supplement
4.3 "Carer's Allowance Supplement" (CAS) is a temporary top-up of Carer's Allowance until the Scottish Government takes on full delivery of Carer's Allowance. CAS was the first payment made by Social Security Scotland and increases Carer's Allowance by around 13%. The first payment was made in Autumn 2018.
4.4 The Coronavirus Act (Scotland) (No.2) Act 2020 modified the effect of section 81 of the Social Security (Scotland) Act 2018 to add an additional £230.10 to awards of CAS for the period from 1 April 2020 to 30 September 2020. This addition is known as the Coronavirus Carer's Allowance Supplement ('CCAS').
4.5 As a result of this a CCAS payment was made available to carers eligible for CAS in April 2020, doubling the additional support eligible carers received, and an extra investment of £19.2 million. Combined with our standard CAS payment, this means around 83,000 of Scotland's carers, on some of the lowest incomes and with the some of the most intense caring roles, have received up to £690.30 on top of their Carer's Allowance.
4.6 As part of the Coronavirus (Extension and Expiry) (Scotland) Act, these provisions will be expired at the end of 30 September 2021.
4.7 The CCAS provisions in the Coronavirus Act (Scotland) (No.2) Act allowed for the increased payment to be made during the period specified in the Act, which has now passed. We are content that backdating of this payment can continue beyond expiry of the provision on the basis that the Interpretation and Legislative Reform (Scotland) Act 2010 will protect individual rights acquired while the provision was in force. Therefore, the provision is no longer necessary in order to make backdated payments of the increased award of CAS for the period from 1 April 2020 to 30 September 2020.
4.8 The Carer's Allowance Supplement (Scotland) Bill was introduced to the Scottish Parliament on 22 June 2021. Subject to Parliamentary approval of the Bill, the Scottish Government will make an increased payment of £231.40 to carers eligible for the CAS in December 2021 in recognition of the additional caring responsibilities and associated strains and costs carers have had to meet as a result of the restrictions put in place to help tackle the pandemic.
4.9 Carer's Allowance Supplement, along with a number of other forms of assistance unaffected by the Coronavirus (Extension and Expiry) (Scotland) Act 2021, continue to be available to Carers,
Carer's Allowance Supplement
4.10 Beyond the additional payments legislated for in the Coronavirus Act (Scotland) (No.2) Act 2020 and the Carer's Allowance Supplement (Scotland) Bill , Carer's Allowance Supplement continues to be paid in two lump sums per year (each of £226.20 in 2019/20). One is paid in early summer (generally in June), and one in winter (generally in December), based on eligibility at specific eligibility dates in April and October. CAS was initially set at a level which would raise Carer's Allowance to the equivalent of the current rate of Jobseeker's Allowance for those 25 years old and over. However following uprating the combined payment now exceeds the rate of Jobseeker's Allowance.
4.11 Carers in Scotland who receive Carer's Allowance do not need to apply for CAS – if they are resident in Scotland, and in receipt of Carer's Allowance on the qualifying dates, they will receive the Supplement automatically.
4.12 574,020 CAS payments have been made to 119,945 carers since September 2018. Our combined investment in Carer's Allowance and CAS was around
£358 million in 2020/21.
4.13 Executive competence for administering Carer's Allowance, which is legislated for under section 70 of the Social Security Contributions and Benefits Act 1992, transferred to the Scottish Ministers in September 2018. Since this time, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions ("the Secretary of State") has administered Carer's Allowance on behalf of the Scottish Ministers pursuant to an agency agreement.
4.14 To be eligible for Carer's Allowance an individual must be 16 or over, spend at least 35 hours a week caring for a person who qualifies for specified disability benefits, meet the residence requirements, not be in full-time education or studying for 21 hours a week or more, not be subject to immigration control, and not earn more than £128 per week after tax, National Insurance and expenses.
4.15 In February 2021, there were 82,031 carers in Scotland in receipt of Carer's Allowance.
Young Carer Grant
4.16 On 21 October 2019, Social Security Scotland began accepting applications for Young Carer Grant, a brand new benefit to support young people aged 16, 17 and 18. By 30 April 2021 the Scottish Government had invested £1.1 million into young carers.
4.17 The first of its kind in the UK, Young Carer Grant supports young people with a payment of £308.15 which can be applied for annually, to access life opportunities which are the norm for many of their peers. Since Social Security Scotland began taking applications on 21 October 2019, £1.1million has been invested in young carers through the Young Carer Grant.
4.18 Commissioned research, published in August 2021, reported that YCG had made a positive (albeit not necessarily a very large) impact on carers' mental wellbeing, mainly by reducing stress and increasing confidence.
Scottish Welfare Fund
4.19 The Scottish Welfare Fund provides a vital safety net for those on a low income, including carers. It can provide two types of support: Crisis Grants to help people facing a disaster or emergency; and Community Care Grants to help people to establish or maintain a home within their community. The Scottish Welfare Fund is administered and delivered by Local Authorities.
Wider carer support
4.20 In addition to social security support for carers, the Carers (Scotland) Act 2016 introduced the right for all carers to an adult carer support plan or young carer statement to identify each carer's personal outcomes and needs for support. The Scottish Government has accepted the recommendations of the Independent Review of Adult Social Care, many of which are designed to improve carer support, including the establishment of a National Care Service. The Scottish Government has committed to increase public investment in social care by 25% over this Parliament - so that by the end of the parliament we would have budgeted over £800 million of increased annual support for social care compared to current spending.
4.21 Across government, we are committed to a number of other actions to support carers. This includes introducing a £1.4 million holiday voucher scheme which will provide thousands of breaks to carers, and disadvantaged young people and families on low incomes; investing in carer centres: and making sure carers are given information on the variety of support available to them.