Who was involved in this EQIA?
In July 2016 the Scottish Government launched a public consultation to support the development of a framework that would become the Social Security (Scotland) Bill. This received more than 200 responses to questions relating to disability benefits with an even split between organisational and individual responses. In particular comments were invited on a partial Equality Impact Assessment which represented the Scottish Government's work on the impact of social security policy on people with protected characteristics prior to the consultation.
There were 521 formal written responses submitted, of which 241 were from organisations and 280 from individual respondents. Of the 241 organisational responses, 81 were received from stakeholder groups relating to children/young people, equalities and human rights, disability and long term conditions, and carers. The independent analysis of the responses along with the Scottish Government response were published on 22 May 2017. In addition, the Equality Impact Assessment that was published alongside the Social Security (Scotland) Bill was used to inform the partial Equality Impact Assessment for these Regulations.
The Scottish Government has set up Social Security Experience Panels with over 2,400 people across Scotland registered as panel members when the Panels opened in 2017. The Panels involve people with lived experience of the benefits that are coming to Scotland. In July 2019 recruitment to the Experience Panels was reopened. We have been working with relevant stakeholders to specifically target disabled people from seldom heard groups as part of our engagement.
Two surveys regarding the case transfer process were sent out to Experience Panel members in January and February 2019. 404 and 559 responses were received respectively. A series of individual and group interviews were also conducted. Results from both surveys and the interviews were published in 2019. These surveys confirmed that of most importance to panel members was that they continue to receive the correct payment at the correct time.
The Consultation on Disability Assistance built on the work on the Experience Panels and was published on 5 March 2019. In line with the principles of dignity, fairness and respect, the Scottish Government sought the views of the people of Scotland on the three proposed disability assistance benefits. The consultation closed on 28 May 2019, having received 263 replies, of which 74 were from stakeholder organisations and 189 were from individuals.
Regarding disability assistance, an initial framing exercise for the partial Equalities Impact Assessment was carried out in 2017 involving a range of internal Scottish Government stakeholders. In addition to highlighting a number of positive impacts and potential barriers, the exercise enabled significant data gaps to be identified. This in turn led to the targeted consultation with stakeholders representing people with protected characteristics which was undertaken during the Consultation on Disability Assistance between 5 March and 28 May 2019.
The Scottish Government has also undertaken ongoing consultation with stakeholders through our independent Disability and Carers Benefits Expert Advisory Group (DACBEAG) as well as the Ill Health and Disability Benefits Stakeholder Reference Group. DACBEAG is chaired by Dr Jim McCormick and comprises individuals with significant practical experience of the UK social security system, from a range of professional backgrounds. It is independent of the Scottish Government. The Group's role is to advise Scottish Ministers on specific policy options for disability assistance and carers benefits due to be delivered in Scotland.
The Ill Health and Disability Benefits Stakeholder Reference Group was set up in March 2016 to inform and influence the development of policy options relating to devolved Disability Assistance. This group has advised on the potential impact of policy decisions as well as stakeholder engagement.
On 21 December 2020, the Scottish Government launched a public consultation on its proposals for the delivery of Adult Disability Payment and on drafts of the accompanying impact assessments. The consultation ran until 15 March 2021 and received 127 responses from individuals and stakeholder organisations. A number of changes to this Equality Impact Assessment have been made in response to this feedback including:
- Undertaking further analysis of the impact of proposed changes to the application of the eligibility criteria, specifically looking at potential impacts on women and on people with one or more mental health condition and people with a learning disability and/ or learning difficulty, and on people with varying health conditions.
- The introduction of measures to ensure that a Social Security Scotland practitioner gains an understanding of the full needs and experiences of a client where a consultation takes place.
- Actions to further ensure that the application of the reliability criteria mitigates the negative impacts of how the PIP eligibility criteria is currently applied by the Department for Work and Pensions.
Despite the continuing impact of coronavirus, work with Experience Panels has continued, with user testing on digital material that will be available on the Social Security Scotland website. Specifically with regards to case transfer, framing exercises have been taking place in 2020 and will continue to take place with a range of internal Scottish Government stakeholders.
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