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.
7. Practical considerations
There are a number of factors that currently limit what the Scottish Government can do with current benefits. The Group have highlighted a number of these factors and explain what we see as the main issues. However we do not feel that it is within our scope, remit or expertise to suggest solutions to them all.
7.1 Devolved and reserved interactions
The devolved disability and carer benefits interact with means-tested benefits that remain reserved. For example, entitlement to disability and carer benefits may entitle someone to enhanced premiums in their means-tested benefits and to other forms of reserved assistance. This means any substantive changes that would impact on those interactions would have to be agreed with the DWP. Moreover, any changes required to DWP processes may have to be funded by the Scottish Government. We believe a clear agreement with the DWP is needed to allow Social Security Scotland to develop policy around disability and carers benefits whilst understanding the impact it will have on reserved benefits.
Recommendation 45: A roundtable discussion with Social Security Scotland, Scottish Government, DWP, UK Government and relevant advisory group representatives and stakeholders should be held towards future planning.
The aims of this kind of roundtable discussion should be:
- to highlight the number of issues surrounding the interactions between the devolved and reserved systems; and
- to discuss what potential solutions could be.
This should take place before the independent ADP review starts to allow outputs to feed into this. We should always be striving for improved policy coherence and alignment.
Additional investment is needed in disability and carers benefits if they are to reach an adequate level, and to ensure the Scottish Government fully meets its obligations. We are aware that policy recommendations have not been accepted due to the associated financial costs. For example, adding a mobility component to the Scottish replacement for Attendance Allowance, Disability Assistance for Older People (DAOP), has been rejected in large part due to its projected costs of £580 million annually.
We understand that the Scottish Government has limited taxation and borrowing powers, however we would like to see an approach to budgeting that ensures there are adequate resources available to ensure individual's human rights are fully realised, including the right to adequate social security. We have attended several relevant knowledge building sessions with Scottish Government officials on these topics.
The Scottish Fiscal Commission have published forecasting that estimated the Scottish Government will need to invest an additional £568m in disability and carers benefits as a result of making improvements to the claiming and assessments process for Adult Disability Payments. This is warmly welcomed by the Group. However, as we are aware that the Scottish Government's block grant and borrowing powers are limited, this additional investment will need to be found within existing budgets, or from raising additional revenues. This is something we discussed further with officials from the Scottish Government's Tax and New Revenues Unit and the Scottish Human Rights Commission. We plan to have some further engagement in this area.
We have previously highlighted that due to the Scottish Government's commitment to a rights-based approach, more funding for social security will have to be allocated. Put bluntly, as more people become eligible for support, and as the levels of support are increased to make it adequate, this is going to cost more.
Recommendation 46: The Scottish Government should set out how it will fund the further investment in social security that is required.
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