20. This section provides an overview of issues for Scottish rural/remote and island communities that are relevant for these amendment regulations.
21. Island stakeholders have emphasised the importance of understanding the island experience. Each island has its own specific considerations and constraints.
22. Rural Scotland accounts for 98% of the land mass of Scotland and 17% of the population are resident there.
23. At the time of the 2011 Census, Scotland had 93 inhabited islands with a total population of 103,700 (which was 2% of Scotland’s population). Of these islands, only five are connected to the Scottish mainland by bridge or causeway.
24. The Islands Act identifies six local authorities representing island communities in Part 4 of the Act (Section 20 (2), which are Argyll and Bute Council; Comhairle nan Eilean Siar/Western Isles; Highland Council; North Ayrshire Council; Orkney Islands Council; and Shetland Islands Council. Amongst them, Orkney, Shetland and Western Isles are entirely island authorities, while Highland, Argyll and Bute and North Ayrshire local authorities cover island regions as well as mainland regions.
Demography and Health
25. According to the 2011 Census, 83% of island residents reported their health as being ‘Very good’ or ‘Good’ compared with 82% for Scotland as a whole. The proportion of island residents with a long-term (lasting 12 months or more) health problem or disability that limited their day-to-day activities was just under 20%, including 9% who reported their daily activities were limited a lot. The corresponding proportions for Scotland as a whole were very similar.
26. 17% of island residents are under age 16, which is the same proportion as per Scotland as a whole.
27. 62% of island residents are aged between 16-65 with the median age being 45 which is higher than the average across Scotland as a whole (41).
28. The proportion of people in relative poverty after housing costs with someone disabled is 23% and with no one disabled is 17%. Further, children in households with a disabled person were more likely to be in poverty than other households. UK wide, disabled people have higher poverty rates than the general population. Disabled people make up 28% of people in poverty. A further 20% of people who are in poverty live in a household with a disabled child.
29. It is estimated that 24% of children (240,000 children each year) were living in relative poverty after housing costs in 2017-2020. Before housing costs, it is estimated that 21% of children (210,000 children each year) were in relative poverty. 
30. Around 4.2% of children in island communities are in receipt of Disability Living Allowance for Children.
31. Nearly 9.5% of people in receipt of Personal Independence Payment in Scotland live in remote and island communities across the six local authority areas as of July 2020. This accounts for 25,959 people.
32. Research undertaken by the Scottish Government and by stakeholders in 2020 have found that a lack of connectivity in rural or remote communities has been compounded by the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic. An absence of good quality internet connection can significantly impact on an individual’s ability to socialise and partake in cultural activities, particularly where people already have mobility restrictions as a result of a disability or health condition.
33. These amendments intend to improve outcomes for disabled people by making the journey for individuals moving from Child Disability Payment to Adult Disability Payment as smooth as possible. One way we are doing this is by maintaining the payment cycles of individuals moving between these forms of assistance, providing them with financial continuity.
Cost of Living
34. The cost of many amenities and activities are higher for people living in island communities than those living on the mainland. A lack of choice and accessibility means that shopping, mobile phone services and broadband can be more expensive for young people living in island communities compared to those on the mainland. The greater distances and remoteness means that day to day travel, postage, fuel, day-trips and holidays are also more expensive for young people in remote communities.
35. Citizens Advice Scotland have identified issues of grid, utilities, digital and travel as key barriers for people in accessible rural, remote rural and remote small towns. Furthermore, a typical food basket can cost as much as 50% more on island communities in Scotland, while transport can be up to £30 a week more expensive due to longer distances for commuting and a higher price for petrol.
36. According to Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), household budgets in remote rural Scotland are typically 10-35% higher than elsewhere in the UK. For households in the most remote parts of Scotland, additional costs can be greater than 40%. HIE attribute these extra costs to three principal sources:
- the higher prices that households must pay for food, clothes and household goods;
- much higher household fuel bills, influenced by climate and fuel sources;
- the longer distances that people have to routinely travel, particularly to work.
37. According to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, levels of poverty among disabled people are generally underestimated. Because disabled people’s needs are often greater than for those without a disability, the cost of living for disabled people is frequently higher. These costs are higher in island and remote communities due to an environment that is less accessible, with higher costs for reasonable adjustments to technology, housing and transport.
38. The Scottish Government recognises that both being disabled and living in a remote rural area make it more expensive to meet material need and participate in society.
39. While both Child and Adult Disability Payment are not intended to be an income replacement benefit, they are intended to provide support with helping to meet the extra costs associated with having a disability, such as paying for care and mobility needs. For some disabled people, it will bring additional entitlement to other benefits.
Connectivity and accessibility
40. Citizens Advice Scotland have identified issues of grid, utilities, digital and travel as key barriers for people in accessible rural, remote rural and remote small towns.
41. According to the research briefings from 2017 about the Islands (Scotland) Bill, residents of islands rely on ferry crossings and air travel to reach the mainland and larger islands, and key services such as secondary and higher education, care, and medical services.
42. In 2011, the proportion of island households with at least one car or van available was 79%, compared with just over two-thirds (69%) nationally.
43. In rural remote areas and island communities, young disabled people face a lack of access to opportunities that are more readily and frequently available to those on the mainland or in urban areas. Furthermore, a lack of accessibility to employment, education and leisure opportunities can be made more difficult for someone with mobility issues, especially when transport options are limited.
44. Bus services in remote and island communities can be unreliable and are often community run. Even where buses are available, they often run rarely and timetables do not meet the needs of young people living in the community. Furthermore, if there is already someone with a wheelchair or pram on the bus it is not always possible for a wheelchair user to board.
45. Not all islands are served by buses and there are not always taxis available. We heard how disabled young people on islands rely heavily on neighbours, friends and families driving them as a primary means of transport.
46. The needs of wheelchair users can be different in island and rural communities than the needs of wheelchair users in an urban environment due to more challenging terrain.
47. We appreciate the challenges faced by young disabled people in relation to connectivity and accessibility. Our priority through these amendments is to ensure that the transition between Child Disability Payment and Adult Disability Payment is as smooth as possible. We will do this by maintaining the payment cycles of individuals moving from Child Disability Payment to Adult Disability Payment to ensure that individuals receive their Adult Disability Payment on the same date their Child Disability Payment was previously paid. This will provide certainty to young disabled individuals in rural or island communities that there will be no interruption in them receiving the financial assistance they are entitled which can support them to access mobility and travel options.
48. Stakeholders have identified potential cultural barriers to applying for Child Disability Payment or Adult Disability Payment . This is because of the close-knit nature of island communities. Although there is plenty of research that evidences the positive impact of the support provided by close-knit communities, certain barriers may also be present.
49. It is possible that stigma attached to identifying as disabled could act as a barrier to young people applying to Child Disability Payment. The need for privacy and dignity is emphasised by disabled children and young people in remote and island communities.
50. We hope that by making the transition between Child Disability Payment and Adult Disability payment as smooth as possible we will ease some of the stress and anxieties that can be experienced by young people when moving between benefits.
Choice and representation
51. We heard how there are limited options for young people living in island and remote communities with regard to leisure activities, support services and support groups with the importance of choice being a key theme in both consultations. However such choices are often diminished or non-existent in rural areas.
52. Individuals can apply and maintain their Child Disability Payment and Adult Disability Payment applications by phone, online, by post or in person. This ensures that people can interact with Social Security Scotland in a way that best meets their needs.
53. These amendments aim to make the transition between Child Disability Payment and Adult Disability Payment as smooth as possible for young people, particularly by maintaining their payment cycles as they move between these forms of assistance.
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