We consider that this policy will have a positive impact on disabled people in Scotland. As this policy will give the First-tier Tribunal and Upper Tribunal a discretionary power to issue a direction prohibiting the disclosure of a document or information to a person if it will cause serious harm to the physical or mental health of the recipient or some other person, it is expected that people in receipt of disability assistance will be the most likely to be affected. This is because applications for disability assistance generally include consideration of a person's physical and/or mental health, while applications for other devolved benefits do not generally include consideration of a person's physical and/or mental health.
There is the potential negative impact in terms of individuals' rights to access information held about them. However, this potential negative impact is mitigated by the inclusion of clear rules that set a high threshold to be met, which is informed by clinical advice, before either the First-tier Tribunal or Upper Tribunal can use their discretionary power to issue a direction prohibiting disclosure of a document or information to a person if it is likely to cause them serious harm. Overall, we consider the policy meets the overarching aim of avoiding causing serious harm to an person's physical or mental health.
There are data gaps around protected characteristics. Social Security Scotland published an Equality Strategy on 22 June 2021 which will help us to meet our responsibilities under the Equality Act 2010. The strategy is accompanied by a set of Equality Outcomes. These measurable outcomes are based on information set out in our Mainstreaming Equality Report and are informed by our stakeholders.
Social Security Scotland has developed an action plan to put this strategy in place and achieve our equality outcomes. Under outcome three, "Delivering and improving our service" they have committed to taking forward a number of actions including actions to:
- Carry out more analysis of clients' diversity and equalities information, in particular the disabled people category and intersectionality.
- Build on the work of the National Engagement and Local Delivery teams to understand the needs of specific equality groups and communities. This includes demand for translated information, making our application process easier, and specific support needs.
- Be aware of and understand the findings from client panels, experience panels and equalities research when we are developing and improving our services.
- In line with our commitment under the Social Impact Pledge, encourage everyone to use their allocated volunteering hours. This will help to increase awareness of the differing needs and the specific inequalities faced by our current and potential clients.
- Improve joint working with our Policy and Directorate colleagues, particularly in relation to the Maximising Benefit Uptake Strategy and Policy Evaluation Strategy for Benefits.
I am satisfied with the equality impact assessment that has been undertaken for The First-tier Tribunal for Scotland Social Security Chamber and Upper Tribunal for Scotland (Rules of Procedure) (Miscellaneous Amendment) Regulations 2022 and give my authorisation for the results of this assessment to be published on the Scottish Government's website.
Name: Lynn Forsyth
Position: Unit Head, Five Family Payments, Funeral Support and Challenge Rights Unit
Authorisation date: 12 April 2022
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