Disability and Carer Benefits Expert Advisory Group: Beyond a safe and secure transfer
To: Ben Macpherson – Minister for Social Security and Local Government
03 October 2022
Dear Mr Macpherson,
Beyond a safe and secure transfer
As outlined in our letter to the Cabinet Secretary on 24 March 2021, the Disability and Carer Benefits Expert Advisory Group have been pleased to see our advice influencing Scottish Government policy in a number of ways.
Over time it has become increasingly clear that the changes that the Scottish Government can make in the short term are limited. We understand this is primarily driven by the decisions taken on case transfer and the desire to avoid creating substantially different forms of assistance in Scotland while some Scottish people continue to receive the current benefits through the Agency Agreements in place with the Department for Work and Pensions.
Our advice to date has necessarily been targeted to those areas requiring attention. This has focused our immediate consideration on practical changes planned to the existing system of entitlements that the Scottish Government is more likely to be able to implement in the near future and some wider policy issues, including further moves towards embedding equality and rights-based approaches. We have considered the longer-term and more holistic changes to disability and carer benefits needed in order to deliver more fully on the principles set out in the Social Security (Scotland) Act 2018. However, we have been unable to examine these in detail or provide meaningful or effective related advice to date.
This proactive advice outlines a number of recommendations we would like to make on the additional positive impact which disability and carer's assistance could make, following the safe and secure transfer of all clients on to new forms of Scottish assistance.
We understand that our advice may incur risks, implications and challenges for the Scottish Government. Where possible these are made explicit in the current advice note and we aim to outline a proposed solution. Clearly, information and the current policy landscape may quickly change in ways that cannot be foreseen at this time. It is also challenging to predict what may happen in the context of the cost-of-living crisis, inflation rises and increasing international instability. Therefore, the advice we give now is with the caveat that this too may change in light of developments.
This advice was prepared following a series of separate workstream discussions over the course of a year, between September 2021 and September 2022. Whilst a significant amount of time and resource was dedicated to the development of this advice, we would recommend that this be revisited before the completion of the safe and secure transfer to ensure it remains accurate and comprehensive. Our recommendations are summarised at the end of this letter.
DACBEAG members invited a number of external colleagues to join the workstream discussions to support the formulation of this advice. These additional participants provided invaluable input, appreciated by group members and the Secretariat. They contributed expert policy perspectives based on professional expertise, and some were also able to offer direct and personal lived experience reflections and advice. We extend our thanks to: Rob Gowans, Policy and Public Affairs Manager, Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland (the ALLIANCE); Catherine Hale, Director, Chronic Illness Inclusion; Keith Park, Policy, Public Affairs and Campaigns Manager, MS Society Scotland; Marianne Scobie, Deputy CEO, Glasgow Disability Alliance; and Etienne d'Aboville, previously Chief Executive, Glasgow Centre for Inclusive Living.
The Group also hosted a seminar, titled 'Models of social security assistance: drawing lessons from other countries' on 28 March 2022. This is referred to later in this advice document. A number of international speakers presented during this seminar to showcase comparisons from their own countries. We extend our thanks to the presenters: Garima Talwar Kapoor, Director of Policy and Research, and Michael Mendelson, Maytree Fellow, Maytree, Canada; Markus Raivio, CEO and Co-Founder, Kukunori, Finland and; Annie Harper, PhD, Program for Recovery and Community Health, Department of Psychiatry, Yale School of Medicine, USA.
A number of other valuable reports and recommendations are referred to throughout this advice and will further assist in developing a human rights based, world leading system of social security:
- The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the Right to Social Security
- The report of the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities
- The Scottish Campaign on rights to social security: Beyond a safe and secure transition
I hope this advice is helpful. I look forward to your response and would be pleased to discuss this further.
With best wishes,
Dr. Jim McCormick
Disability and Carer Benefits Expert Advisory Group
Beyond a safe and secure transfer advice
03 October 2022
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