The Cabinet Secretary for Social Security and Older People made a statement on 28 February to the Scottish Parliament on the timetable for the remaining devolved benefits to be delivered. You can read it here: Cabinet Secretary's full statement
Alongside the statement, the Scottish Government published a full suite of position papers on various matters relating to the development of the devolved social security benefits in Scotland. The following pages provide key factsheets for each paper and, for completion, factsheets on what has happened so far and plans for 2019.
What has happened so far
- The Scotland Act 2016 devolved a number of benefits to the Scottish Parliament, including a range of powers relating to assistance for disabled persons and carers, as well as powers to make administrative changes to Universal Credit and vary the housing costs element.
- In July 2016, the Scottish Government launched a consultation on social security. 521 responses were received.
- An outline business case for the establishment of a new social security agency, with a local presence providing face to face advice, and a central administrative function, was published on 27 April 2017. Social Security Scotland was formally established in September 2018.
- The Social Security Bill began its journey through the Scottish Parliament on 20 June 2017 and was passed unanimously on 25 April 2018.
- The Scottish Government set up Social Security Experience Panels – 2,400 people with lived experience of the social security system who provide advice and guidance on the design and delivery of the new social security benefits.
- The first use of the Scotland Act 2016 powers was the introduction of Universal Credit Scottish Choices on 4 October 2017, giving people in Scotland the choice of being paid Universal Credit twice a month rather than monthly, and having their Universal Credit housing element paid direct to their landlord.
- The first benefit delivered by Social Security Scotland was Carer's Allowance Supplement, which has put an extra £442 into the pockets of over 77,000 carers, an investment of over £33 million in 2018/19. This increases to around £37 million in 2019/20.
- There have also been payments of the Best Start Grant Pregnancy and Baby Payment to more than 9,700 low income households during the first 3 months of operation, totalling £3.5 million.
- There was an announcement by the Scottish Government in September 2018 that there will be no private sector involvement in assessments for disability support. Assessments for disability support will be carried out by Social Security Scotland, fully supported by public sector healthcare professionals – and people will be given greater choice and flexibility over their assessments.
- The Social Security Charter received unanimous Parliamentary approval on 6 February 2019. It was co-produced by people with lived experience of social security. It outlines in detail what can be expected from the Scottish Government and Social Security Scotland for anyone accessing Scotland's new social security system.
- On 28 February, the Cabinet Secretary for Social Security and Older People made a statement in the Scottish Parliament that on 1 April next year (2020), the Scottish Government will take full responsibility - both payment and policy - for the remaining devolved benefits. A consultation on Improving Disability Assistance in Scotland was launched on 5 March.
Plans for 2019
- By the end of 2019, the Scottish Government will have delivered four new benefits. This is in addition to continuing to deliver the Carer's Allowance Supplement and Best Start Grant Pregnancy and Baby Payment.
- The new benefits are:
- Best Start Grant Early Learning Payment – from 29 April 2019. A £250 payment to low income families around the time a child can start nursery.
- Best Start Grant School Age Payment – from 3 June 2019. A £250 payment to low income families around the time a child can start school.
- Funeral Expense Assistance (replacing Funeral Expenses Payment) by summer 2019. Provides eligible low income families with a contribution towards the cost of a funeral, with improvements on the equivalent DWP benefit that increase eligibility by around 40%.
- Young Carer Grant – by autumn 2019. The grant will be awarded to young carers aged 16 to 18 who do at least 16 hours of caring a week, but don't qualify for Carer's Allowance.
- Our delivery plans for 2020 onwards are set out in Factsheets 3 to 13.
Delivery of disability and carers benefits
- The benefits currently being delivered by Social Security Scotland, or due to be delivered later in 2019, are mainly in the form of one-off or lump sum payments and grants.
- The delivery of the remaining devolved benefits i.e. carers and disability benefits from 2020 is more complex. This is because:
- They involve regular payments to individuals, who will have an ongoing relationship with Social Security Scotland.
- People's circumstances may well change during that relationship, requiring adjustments to their payments.
- To establish whether someone is eligible for a disability or carer benefit is complex and will involve information gathering and more sophisticated decision-making.
- Social Security Scotland will carry out face to face assessments when it is the only practical way to obtain information.
- The Scottish Government wants to introduce the devolved benefits in their Scottish form as quickly as it can - taking into account some key considerations:
- Ensuring a safe and secure transition;
- Allowing sufficient time between benefit launches; and
- For each benefit, introducing a new claims service before we transfer existing claims from the DWP to Social Security Scotland.
- The Scottish Government believes the most sensible approach is to deliver new claims for the main disability benefits, in increasing order of complexity and size of caseload, and then to deliver Carer's Allowance in its Scottish form.
- The timetable for delivery is set out at page 6.
Disability Assistance assessments
- The Scottish Government's approach to how decisions should be made about eligibility to Disability Assistance, and the nature of that process, continues to be informed by the Disability and Carers Benefits Expert Advisory Group and Experience Panels.
- The Scottish Government is creating a holistic, person centred approach to providing Disability Assistance to ensure the needs of individuals are met.
- Individuals will be provided with a choice of application channels including online, telephone, paper and in-person.
- Case Managers will gather information on an individual's behalf, where possible, to inform the decision making process. Various sources of information, suggested by the individual, will be accessed. Only in circumstances in which there is no other practicable way to make a decision about entitlement to Disability Assistance for Working Age People will an individual be required to attend a face to face assessment.
- The Scottish Government will provide suitably qualified staff to undertake assessments for people with conditions that may require more specialist knowledge. In addition, the Scottish Government will provide a proportion of assessors with additional training in the impact of mental health conditions and learning disabilities, to enable them to carry out face to face assessments of people with these conditions.
- When invited to attend a face to face assessment an appointment will be made for the individual at a location that suits them, taking into account where they live and their access needs.
- No one applying for Scottish Disability Assistance will be assessed by a private sector provider; all face to face assessments will be delivered by Social Security Scotland.
- Individuals will have a right to be accompanied to an assessment and to have that person participate. Social Security Scotland will also ensure access to advocacy support for disabled people.
- Individuals will routinely be provided with a copy of the report written by the assessor without having to request it. Assessments will be audio recorded as standard.
- The Scottish Government is carrying out a wide ranging public consultation on all of our proposals relating to Disability Assistance, which closes on 28 May 2019.
Disability Assistance awards and entitlements
- The principles being adopted by the Scottish Government for the duration of disability awards was informed by the Disability and Carer Benefits Expert Advisory Group and the Ill Health Reference Group.
- The Duration of Award Principles specify that all awards should be made on a rolling basis, with no set date for an award ending; and that there will be no auto-entitlement thus ensuring all decisions will be person-centred.
- The Principles also make it clear that Disability Assistance should not stop whilst an award review is being undertaken; that review dates will be set at a date that takes account of the likelihood of that person's needs changing; and that reviews will be light-touch and, as far as possible, minimise stress.
- The Disability Assistance regulations will include a requirement to set an Award Review date for each individual's award, and also provide a framework for awards to be made on a rolling basis.
- Under the Scottish Government's Principles moving into work will not be regarded as a change of circumstance.
- The Principles will also require Social Security Scotland to give a reason to individuals where their award is reviewed earlier than the date set, and to publish the numbers of cases where awards are reviewed earlier than the date set at initial decision.
- In cases where there is no likelihood of improvement there will be at least five years between Light-Touch reviews and awards will have a maximum period of 10 years between Light-Touch Reviews.
Disability Assistance qualifying periods
- Disability Assistance in Scotland will be made up of three forms of assistance:
- Disability Assistance for Children and Young People;
- Disability Assistance for Working-Age People; and
- Disability Assistance for Older People.
- Qualifying Period rules are time limits that ensure that people must have had, or be expected to have, a disability or long-term condition for a certain period of time to be eligible for Disability Assistance.
- As part of the Scottish Government's development of the new disability benefits it has carefully considered whether any of these qualifying periods should be changed. It concluded that these Qualifying Periods should not be changed for the following reasons:
- Significant policy changes could impact on the fundamental purpose of Disability Assistance which is to target long-term conditions. Keeping eligibility targeted to those for whom Disability Assistance is intended would be a significant challenge with any reduction in the qualifying periods. If the qualifying periods are reduced this willextend eligibility to people with shorter term conditions, who may not have significant additional financial requirements associated with their condition as many disabled people have, but who are able to meet the immediate requirements of the disability assessment.
- The challenges associated with identifying specific benefits or age groups for change.
- Any change in policy that increases entitlement may incur additional costs and threaten eligibility for reserved passported benefits.
- It would incur significant financial costs.
Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit
- The Industrial Injuries Benefit Scheme provides no-fault compensation for people who are disabled because of an accident at work, or who have one of certain prescribed diseases caused by their work. The main benefit in the scheme is Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit (IIDB).
- The number of new cases has been on a general downward trend since 2002. Responses to the Scottish Government's 2016 Consultation on Social Security in Scotland demonstrated that there is little consensus on the scheme.
- It will be difficult to undertake significant reform of the scheme since key policies relating to the benefit remain reserved, for example, employment, insurance, occupational health and safety, and self-employment.
- While the scheme has a relatively low caseload in Scotland, it is likely to be one of the most complex to transition. Detailed information about current and previous scheme recipients is almost entirely held by the DWP in paper files in remote storage. Transferring these paper files and cases would require entirely new processes and an electronic system to be designed, built, tested and implemented.
- Industrial Injuries Advisory Council (IIAC) has a role in scrutinising Industrial Injury benefits regulations. The UK Government has decided that the role of IIAC should remain unchanged and that it should provide advice to UK Ministers only.
- In advance of transferring the scheme the Scottish Government will have to decide whether, and how, to provide a Scottish equivalent of IIAC. Securing the necessary expertise could be challenging.
- For the above reasons, IIDB will continue to be delivered by the DWP using an Agency Agreement until we begin delivering new claims in Autumn 2022. This allows the DWP to carry out functions on behalf of Scottish Ministers, and specifies what the DWP is being asked to do.
Severe Disablement Allowance
- Severe Disablement Allowance (SDA) is a work-related benefit and designed to replace income lost due to someone being unable to work due to illness or disability. It has been closed to new applicants since 2001.
- In May 2018 around 2,000 individuals in Scotland received SDA, of which only 2% of these were under age 65.
- The equivalent benefit available now for people unable to work due to illness or disability is Employment Support Allowance (ESA), which is not being devolved to Scotland and is one of the benefits being replaced by Universal Credit.
- Of those who responded to questions on SDA in the Scottish Government's 2016 Consultation on Social Security in Scotland, 83% agreed with the Scottish Government's proposal to continue to deliver SDA without making any changes. Responses to a 2018 Experience Panels survey on SDA did not raise any significant issues.
- The Scottish Government believe that there is no benefit in transferring SDA, because:
- There will be no new claims for SDA.
- There is a small and declining caseload for SDA.
- The Scottish Government is not proposing to make changes to the benefit and this proposal is largely supported by stakeholders and individuals.
- The interaction with the State Pension could cause unnecessary confusion for clients.
- Transferring the benefit may cause unnecessary disruption to some SDA clients.
- SDA will continue to be delivered by the DWP using an Agency Agreement. This allows the DWP to carry out functions on behalf of Scottish Ministers, and specifies what the DWP is being asked to do.
- The Scottish Government will provide Short-Term Assistance (STA) where Social Security Scotland has made a decision to reduce or stop a continuing payment (such as disability, carer's and employment injury assistance), and that decision is subject to a request for re-determination or an appeal.
- The purpose of STA is to ensure an individual is not discouraged from challenging that decision by having to manage, for a period, with a reduced income.
- Provision for STA is set out in Section 36 of the Social Security (Scotland) Act (the 2018 Act), along with Schedule 10.
- STA is available for devolved assistance where on-going payments are made.
- STA cannot be used to support people whose reserved benefit is reduced or stopped. Similarly, people would not be able to access any passporting entitlements to the reserved system, or those that are not controlled by the Scottish Government in the devolved system during the period that STA is being paid.
- Where there is a successful appeal, an individual's entitlement record would be adjusted from the point at which it was reduced/stopped or from the point as decided by the tribunal, including passport benefits.
- STA can only be made available once the request for a re-determination or an appeal is made.
- STA will be available until the First-tier Tribunal (FtT) has made a determination.
- The Scottish Government will undertake a consultation to inform the detailed design and operation of how STA will operate. In the first instance, it will consult on residency requirements; fraud investigations; servicing an overpayment; and process decision appeals.
Social security case transfer
- Over 500,000 existing cases will be transferred from the DWP to Social Security Scotland (around 10% of the total population in Scotland).
- Case transfer will start in 2020 after Disability Assistance for Children and Young People is delivered. This will replace DWP's Disability Living Allowance for children.
- Case transfer for all existing in scope DWP cases is targeted to complete in 2024 with the majority being completed in 2023. The scope of transfers includes:
- Adults aged 65 and over, and people in receipt of Disability Living Allowance for children;
- Working age people in receipt of Personal Independence Payment; and
- People in receipt of Carer's Allowance and people in receipt of Attendance Allowance.
- A transfer strategy for people in receipt of Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit from the DWP will be designed when plans for new claims for this benefit are more advanced.
- The Scottish Government is not proposing to transfer existing claims of Severe Disablement Allowance.
- The Scottish Government will continue to work with benefit recipients and stakeholders in the co-design of the case transfer processes. The case transfer process will be based on a series of transfer principles including:
- Continuation of the correct payment at the correct time.
- No reapplications for benefits as part of the case transfer.
- No face to face re-assessment by DWP when new claims for PIP/Disability Assistance for Working Age People are open.
- Completing the transfer as soon as possible, but without endangering payments.
- Clear communication with clients.
Support for carers
- Experience Panel research on case transfers is expected to be published in May 2019.
- The Scottish Government's first change when the Social Security (Scotland) Act was passed was to introduce Carer's Allowance Supplement (CAS) in September 2018, bringing the amount paid in line with Job Seeker's Allowance through two additional payments a year.
- CAS has helped over 77,000 Scottish carers, increasing Carer's Allowance by 13%, with an investment of over £33 million in 2018/19, and a commitment to increase CAS annually in line with inflation. This means that in 2019/20 investment will rise to around £37 million.
- Carer's Allowance is delivered by the DWP through an Agency Agreement. This ensured the Scottish Government could pay CAS ahead of building the systems that Carer's Allowance will require.
- The Young Carer Grant will be introduced in autumn 2019. It will help around 1,700 young carers each year through an annual payment of £300. The Scottish Government will also start delivery of additional financial support to carers of more than one disabled child in spring 2021.
- We are introducing Carer's Assistance after Disability Assistance because Carer's Allowance is one of the most complex benefits to be transferred, given its interactions with UK Government tax and low income benefits.
- The Scottish Government will open new applications for all parts of Carer's Assistance by the end of 2021. To begin with, new claims for Carer's Assistance will be on broadly the same terms as the existing DWP benefit.
- From spring 2022, the Scottish Government will also begin the transfer of existing Carer's Allowance claims from the DWP to Social Security Scotland. The Scottish Government will consult on the proposals it expects to make to support for carers in the longer term in due course.
Terminal Illness Definition and Rules
- The Scottish Government included provision in the Social Security (Scotland) Act 2018 to introduce a new definition of terminal illness that differs from the current UK Government definition.
- The Act says that "An individual is to be regarded as having a terminal illness …. if ….it is the clinical judgement of a registered medical practitioner that the individual has a progressive disease that can reasonably be expected to cause the individual's death".
- The new definition sets no arbitrary timeframe of prognosis, recognising instead that a person-centred approach to terminal diagnosis should be based on the clinical judgement and expertise of the registered medical practitioner.
- The Chief Medical Officer has established a Short-Life Working Group on Terminal Illness for Disability Assistance to develop guidance. A Reference Group (SHRG), which comprises wider stakeholders, has also been established to enrich the development of the draft guidance.
- The groups have finalised an initial draft of the guidance. A managed consultation process was launched on 12 February and closes on 19 April 2019. Given the clinical nature of the guidance, it has been issued to a wider group of medical professionals, as well as representatives of support and advocacy organisations whose views will inform its continued development.
- Registered Medical Practitioners, who certify that their patient is terminally ill for the purposes of determining eligibility for disability assistance under special rules, will communicate this directly and securely to Social Security Scotland.
- For an eligible person there will be no qualifying period; no requirement to undergo further assessment; awards will be calculated from date of application; and entitlement will be to the highest rate(s) of assistance for the relevant benefit.
Cold Spell and Winter Heating Assistance
- In Scotland, Winter Heating Assistance will replace Winter Fuel Payments and Cold Spell Heating Assistance will replace Cold Weather Payments.
- The Winter Fuel Payment is a universal, annual tax-free payment made to pensioners to help towards their winter heating costs.
- The Scottish Government's first priority is to ensure current and new recipients receive the benefit they are entitled to. However we are working to improve the way that the new Winter Heating Assistance will be delivered to households, in particular, in remote rural and island communities that are not on the gas grid.
- From April 2020, 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 will be eligible for Winter Heating Assistance.
- Progressively from November 2021 onwards, the Scottish Government will pay Winter Heating Assistance to everyone in Scotland as they reach the female State Pension age. Delivery of the Winter Heating Assistance will continue on the basis of existing eligibility.
- Cold Weather Payments are made to households in receipt of certain benefits during prolonged periods of cold weather.
- The first payments of new Cold Spell Heating Assistance will be made from November 2021 onwards. It will be designed and delivered based upon the existing Cold Weather Payment; there are no plans to change the current eligibility for this benefit or to change the amount of benefit paid.
- The Scottish Government will seek the views of households who have received Winter Fuel Payments and Cold Weather Payments. It is also consulting on the introduction of Winter Heating Assistance for severely disabled children as part of the consultation on Disability Assistance in Scotland, which closes on 28 May 2019.