Disability and Carer Benefits Expert Advisory Group - beyond a safe and secure transfer: advice

This proactive advice outlines a number of recommendations the Disability and Carer Benefits Expert Advisory Group made 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.

5. Other models of social security: international comparisons

We acknowledge that Scotland can be considered a trailblazer in many ways. For example, having clear social security principles in law, and the co-design model being employed signalling the intent for change. The Scottish Government should look internationally for best practice examples of social security for disabled people, carers and beyond that attain UNCRPD and UNCRC rights.

Recommendation 39: The Scottish Government should commit to an international comparison to identify best practice examples of social security for disabled people, carers and beyond. This should include a commitment to incorporate any lessons learned beyond a safe and secure transfer.

We appreciate there will be challenges associated with different countries using different comparators. Therefore, it is of significant importance to look beyond the quantitative data to understand the experiences of people going through these different systems in different countries.

5.1 Minimum Income Guarantee

To inform this section of our advice we held a meeting with international colleagues from Canada, Finland and the USA to share learning. During discussions we concluded that all representative countries had, in some capacity, piloted a Universal Basic Income. Considering the Scottish Government's exploration of the related but different concept of a Minimum Income Guarantee, we have outlined some related key issues below.

A rights based Minimum Income Guarantee would recognise the varying needs of individuals. This could arguably result in a system that is more complex, but payments would be more adequate. 'Simplification' of the system does not always improve it, with Universal Credit a prime example. A Minimum Income Guarantee in a world which is increasingly insecure and precarious would be an important social statement and psychological shift.

Recommendation 40: The social security system should not be simplified in any way that would widen existing inequalities or result in individuals 'losing out'. Simplification should mean reducing the challenges and barriers to access.

During these discussions, a recurring theme was that housing support services should be central to any proposed Minimum Income Guarantee. This was seen to be an effective delivery of funds. Given rising homelessness, rising energy bills and local taxation based on banded property tax, a commitment around housing costs as a whole (considering both affordability and liveability) should be made. International examples to consider include schemes where individuals are guaranteed to pay out no more than one third of their income on housing costs.

Recommendation 41: Housing support services should be central to any proposed Minimum Income Guarantee.

A Minimum Income Guarantee should consider both financial income and services. Services are disproportionately used by disabled people and carers: therefore we should sufficiently and appropriately combine these. We are of the view that in many cases reliable, core services can as valuable as a minimum income e.g. excellent social care and effective transport options.

Recommendation 42: A Minimum Income Guarantee should not result in any reduction in services.

At Appendix B we have listed some existing research relevant to a Minimum Income Guarantee to share learning.


Email: CEU@gov.scot

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