Disability and Carer Benefits Expert Advisory Group minutes: August 2021

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 10 August 2021.

Attendees and apologies


  • Jim McCormick (Chair)
  • Tressa Burke (Deputy Chair)
  • Fiona Collie; Ed Pybus
  • Jo McLaughlin
  • Etienne d’Aboville
  • Simon Hodge
  • Carol Tannahill
  • Angela O’Hagan
  • Frank Reilly
  • Lucinda Godfrey


  • Jatin Haria
  • Sarah Hammond
  • Shaben Begum
  • Alan McDevitt
  • Ewan Macdonald
  • Bill Scott
  • Lucy Mulvagh

In attendance

  • Matthew Duff (Scottish Government)
  • Kate Thomson-McDermott (Scottish Government)
  • Ellen Searle (Scottish Government)


  • Kirsty Milligan (Scottish Government)
  • Connie Penman (Scottish Government)

Items and actions

Welcome from the chair and group business

Jim welcomed everyone to the meeting. He noted that there had been a lot of changes since the previous meeting in May. These changes were that there was a new Cabinet Secretary and Minister as well as a Parliamentary Committee for Social Security and Social Justice. He also mentioned that the previous day many of the Group had an introductory chat with the Cabinet Secretary and the Minister which was a very constructive first engagement. Jim also mentioned that there was a new addition to the Secretariat as Connie Penman would be joining in September. She will give the group additional capacity to help with the proactive work around Beyond Safe and Secure delivery as well as working on the review taking place next spring as the group’s term is until the end of the parliamentary term in June.

Jim raised that the Minutes and actions from the previous meeting were not on the agenda so he proposed that they are cleared by correspondence after this meeting.

Action one: Minutes and actions to be cleared by correspondence

Action for: Secretariat

Action by: End of August

Kate gave an update on the status of the outstanding pieces of advice. The Indefinite Awards advice had gone to the Cabinet Secretary and the Minister with the hope that the group would receive a response by the end of August. Similarly, the Award Reviews advice had been sent and a response was to be expected by the end of September. She reminded the group that the advice was shared with officials before it was finalised and therefor the recommendations had been considered and factored into decisions by officials. Kate continued by explaining that the Disability Evaluation advice was just awaiting formal sign off before it would be sent to Ministers. She apologised for the delay with the Child Disability Payment (CDP) to Adult Disability Payment (ADP) migration advice and lastly she noted that the Disability Assistance for Older People (DAOP) advice was also outstanding and suggested that the group invite officials to the November meeting to revisit this which would allow the group to get back on track.

Action two: Invite DAOP officials to November meeting for update

Action for: Secretariat

Action by: End of September

Jim stated that given all circumstances including the pandemic and changes to the secretariat, the group being almost on track with all work was remarkable. He mentioned that at the meeting with the Cabinet Secretary and the Minister, the importance of being able to track where the group’s advice had and hadn’t been taken on board was raised. He recalled that there was a comprehensive tracker created and he suggested that it should be updated.

The group raised that it would be useful to look at the impact of accepting or not accepting the recommendations they had given noting that it would be useful to receive feedback where the recommendation given wasn’t the right thing.

Action three: Update advice analysis tracker

Action for: Secretariat

Action by: November

Kate suggested that a line about considering the impact of changes made due to DACBEAG’S advice and recommendations could be included with on the Disability Evaluation advice and agreed to send a paragraph to the group to be approved before sending to ministers.

Action four: Send a paragraph to group members to be included in Disability Evaluation advice on considering the impact of change made due to DACBEAG's advice

Action for: Secretariat

Action by: End of August

The group reminded Jim and the Secretariat that they had agreed to declarations of interest of which there was none for this meeting.

Action five: Include declarations of interest in the agenda for every subsequent wuarterly meeting

Action for: Secretariat

Action by: Ongoing

Presentation re Employment Injury Assistance

Jim welcomed officials who talked through a presentation on Employment Injury Assistance (EIA).

Discussion with Matt and the group

Jim noted that the group would be facing some challenges in this advice that hadn’t come up with other payments. Officials then asked the group for any questions and comments which included:

  • the paper provided ahead of the meeting mentioned the consultation for next year. Do officials know which stakeholders that would be directed at?
  • is there any scope for subcontracting to the advisory council as it seemed from the paper that there were issues setting up a Scottish version? Is there any way Scotland could use the existing body?
  • it is clearly a gendered payment and extremely unfair although it is ‘of its time’. There would be a potential risk in changing the benefit and opening it up to more people. Although it would make it fairer it could risk the rights of the people that can currently claim
  • the group struggled with automatic entitlement of certain conditions because they didn’t want to remove existing rights of people
  • there are parallels with EIA and the Joint Committee of Vaccination and Immunisation and the issue in Scotland around their advice being for the UK Government. Is there anything to be learned from linking in with vaccine policy colleagues?
  • do officials know what the timescales are between a person developing a disease or condition and it being agreed that it is an industrial injury or an occupational associated condition?
  • are there any issues in helping the scheme be agile while remaining robust?
  • how much information is there about cohort claimants?
  • we know they are older but likely to be low in income and in certain geographical areas
  • Industrial Injury benefits are no longer fit for purpose but there is a huge opportunity for Social Security Scotland to make changes
  • there are two options, one is to massively reform the benefit and the other is to let it fade away
  • having a variety of Social Security benefits is a positive and letting it fade away would be a wasted opportunity
  • EIA has minimal interaction with DWP benefits and the interaction they do have is generally positive
  • transferring people will be complex. But once people are transferred that will be the end of the process, they would be moved to the Scottish benefit and leave the old one behind
  • it would be good to have a consultation that looks at what purpose the benefit will have in the future and making sure it supports everyone who needs the support
  • thinking of the Social Security (Scotland) Act principles it is hard to not consider how unfair it is that two people with the exact same level of impairment and one is substantially privileged over the other. This doesn’t stand up in today’s world
  • many carers have long-term back injuries as a result of their role but they won’t receive the same level of support
  • anything being set up for the future cannot perpetuate existing inequalities
  • there are three types of workers, employees, self-employed and now gig economy workers, who could be Uber taxi drivers, what would apply to the last category whose workplace would potentially be a vehicle?
  • is there scope to better guide the level of percentage applied?

Breakout groups advice production

Jim thanked officials for attending and the group reflected on the questions from the paper provided ahead of the meeting. They discussed the following:

  • is there a place for a scheme for people who were injured or diseased because of their employment within the Social Security system?
  • after the Scottish Government does a consultation and this question is answered the scheme can be looked at
  • if the scheme continues as it is, it will become less relevant than other benefits for disabled people
  • could it be covered by employers via a corporation tax?
  • how are the right incentives created that try to prevent some risks?
  • this sits out of the scope of disability benefits but the wider points are worth thinking about
  • an organisation like The Woman’s Organisation could lead on analysis of gender disparity and it would be useful to get insight before the benefit rolls out
  • how does this payment fit with the principles of the Social Security (Scotland) Act?
  • there are concerns about disability discrimination and poverty discrimination
  • the questions in the paper are appropriately probing suggesting this is being looked in to
  • there is a risk consulting on this as it could come across that the group are saying they are satisfied with this benefit ‘as is’
  • there could be some thought into the conditions needed before the group consult
  • there needs to be a much more detailed analysis of the gender implications explaining if there is an obvious gender disparity in relation to the conditions and occupations without the scheme
  • is there a disparity within the scheme in terms of take-up?
  • there are bodies looking at the gender disparity of nurses and the likelihood of developing long covid as that is gendered in the opposite way of EIA
  • there is a liability issue within workplaces. There should be an incentive for good health and safety and that would have a preventative effect. Workplaces should also always have access to the correct PPE
  • there is a danger that this benefit could be seen as no longer relevant and not replaced by anything else. This would be a worse situation than it currently is
  • how can the system be reformed in a way that is fairer?
  • it is an important benefit to those who receive it. The short comings should be identified with the desire to look how to improve them
  • there is a desire within the Group for the scheme to be widely revamped but they are aware that it cannot be done immediately due to how complex it is and the need for a safe and secure transfer
  • what would be ideal would be to future proof the scheme instead of only changing it to fit what would be fair right now
  • if EIA was scrapped, would the existing disability benefits and work related benefits be sufficient for people who had a condition or illness due to their work
  • the group may need to ask for more analysis given to them
  • while there is a process in place to assess eligibility, there could also be referral systems to occupational health and other areas. This could help people so that they are not automatically out of the work force
  • there is a precedent in that the Social Security Advisory Committee advises other Governments so they could advise other Ministers who could be relevant for EIA
  • there are other countries that could be turned to, not just for advice and guidance but to see what they have in place
  • things can happen at work which wouldn’t be considered accidents but could be traumatic events which lead to either temporary or enduring psychological trauma. There isn’t much in the way of current thinking around this
  • EIA isn’t means tested and people can still work while receiving it. There is a danger that all benefits in Scotland become means tested
  • a much wider definition of occupational disease would be useful when the benefit is rolled out to include more people although this would create a much bigger benefit
  • within the welfare advice sector there isn’t a lot of knowledge of EIA which leads to questioning where do people get the information about it?
  • for a consultations, how are stakeholders identified in a way that doesn’t reinforce bias?
  • how is expertise built?
  • where is the money coming from for the benefit?
  • how does this align with benefits that have stated there isn’t enough money?
  • there must be something in this policy area which brings employers in to have a stake in compensation as well as mitigating and prevention

Jim thanked the group for their comments and noted that the pragmatic view of the Government doing the best they can answering the questions while taking into account the more fundamental points would be the best way forward. The fundamental points will have consequences on how they can consult.

Update re Scottish Carer’s Assistance and Carer Additional Child Payment

Jim welcomed officials who talked through a presentation which updated the group on Scottish Carer’s Assistance (SCA) and Carer Additional Child Payment (CACP).

Questions from the group, discussion and reflection

The floor was then opened to the group for any questions or comments.

  • it is clear when the consultation may start?
  • the equalities analysis will be shared with the Carer Benefit Advisory Group, without duplicating work, could there be a look at what is being addressed within that group and what space there is for DACBEAG?
  • how much scope can there be on face to face local delivery?
  • there is no requirement for someone outside Scotland who receives Universal Credit to claim Carer’s Allowance as there is a carer’s element in Universal Credit
  • a lot of carer’s are disabled and there is a fear of claiming Carer’s Allowance in case it affects their disability benefit
  • there needs to be referrals for these people along with reassurance that they don’t impact on each other
  • it is mentioned that the eligibility criteria won’t change until the end of Case Transfer, is it known when that will be?
  • what changes will be made on day one?
  • in terms of equalities analysis, it is reassuring to see what is already being done but it may be useful to speak to equalities specialists who can give very specific analysis

Jim suggested that at a future meeting we ask officials to give the group an update on the Child Disability Payment Pilot. He also raised that he felt the group have made consistent points for many payments around equalities analysis, integration and understanding how Carer’ Assistance fits in the lives of carers and interactions with reserved benefits. He asked Fiona to advise the group on the space the group should occupy relative to the Carer Benefit Advisory Group. Before the consultation, the group could look back at recommendations they made that still feel relevant.

Action six: Invite officials to give an update on the Child Disability Payment pilot

Action for: Secretariat

Action by: November

Action seven: Look out relevant recommendations ahead of the Consultation on SCA

Action for: Secretariat

Action by: End of 2021

Update re Case Transfer

Jim then welcomed officials who talked through the paper provided to the group in advance on Case Transfer.

Questions from the group, discussion and reflections

Officials then asked the group for any comments or questions which raised the following:

  • it’s good to see the group’s recommendations being factored into the decisions
  • is the timeline for the communication engagement plan finalised?
  • there are similar overpayment policies with Universal Credit as there were described therefore it would be strongly recommended that there are regulation put in place to stop these overpayments being recovered
  • Will people over pensionable age be transferred from PIP to ADP?
  • is there a provision to protect carers? With Universal Credit if a person has been overpaid and therefore not entitled to the care component, their carer wouldn’t be entitled to Carer’s Allowance.
  • as SCoSS aren’t doing a full scrutiny due to timing, is there scope for Parliamentary scrutiny for Case Transfer. If there isn’t, will there be more responsibility on DACBEAG to look closer at the design of Case Transfer?
  • will the review start earlier for natural Case Transfer than the review date set by DWP?
  • this would create huge amounts of anxiety for people
  • it would be useful to have estimates of what the flow for natural Case Transfer for PIP clients will look like over time

Officials asked if the group would be interested in having a meeting ahead of the next Quarterly Meeting or for them to return at the Quarterly Meeting to give an update on Working Age DLA.

Group discussion re membership

Jim started a short introductory conversation on membership. He reflected to the start of the meeting where the review was mentioned. He noted that by June they will have clarity on what’s next for the group.  Jim mentioned that there are a core group of members who are able to attend quarterly meetings as well as others who contribute in other ways. He then raised that Carolyn Lochhead has resigned from the group due to taking on a new Job.

Carol informed the group that she will be retiring in September and she felt like that would be an appropriate time for her to leave the group.

Etienne also told the group of his imminent retirement which means he will also be stepping down from the group after the upcoming Knowledge Building Sessions.

Jim thanked both members for their work on the group and noted that they will both be missed. He mentioned that there will have to be a refresh on the skills and expertise matrix and think about who can fill in the gaps. He asked the group to consider candidates who could join the group and inform the Secretariat or himself.

Tressa noted that the group would benefit from a member with lived experience as it can affect the balance of the advice given.

Jim finished by telling the group that it will be kept under review when the meetings can start moving towards being face to face and he will ensure everyones preferences will be taken into account.

Thanks and close

Action log

  • action one: Minutes and Actions to be cleared by correspondence. Action for: Secretariat. Action by: End of August 2021.
  • action two: Invite DAOP officials to November meeting for update. Action for: Secretariat. Action by: End of September 2021
  • action three: Update Advice Analysis Tracker. Action for: Secretariat. Action by: November 2021
  • action four: Send a paragraph to Group members to be included in Disability Evaluation advice on considering the impact of changes made due to DACBEAG’s advice. Action for: Secretariat. Action by: End of August 2021
  • action five: Include declarations of interest in the agenda for every subsequent quarterly meeting. Action for: Secretariat. Action by: Ongoing
  • action six: Invite officials to give an update on the Child Disability Payment pilot. Action for: Secretariat. Action by: November
  • action seven: Look out relevant recommendations ahead of the Consultation on SCA. Action for: Secretariat. Action by: End of 2021
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