The policy may impact clients in different ways according to their individual circumstances. This section considers whether there are any greater or lesser impacts expected on individuals according to protected characteristics.
In April 2021, there were 288,135 people entitled to Personal Independence Payment in Scotland. The number of cases with entitlement increases with age up to the most common age band of '60-64' (44,569 cases, 15 per cent). From age 65 and over the number of cases decreases, with only 14,889 cases (five per cent) in the 70 and over age band. This is because people are generally unable to start a new claim for Personal Independence Payment after they reach State Pension Age.
There is very limited data available which suggests that the option of staggered payments will be offered to younger or older claimants. The policy will be applied equally, regardless of age, and based on the client's vulnerability. There is no evidence to suggest there will be a disproportionate adverse impact on any particular age group.
Anyone over the age of 16 who is applying to, or in receipt of PIP may be impacted by the policy. This EQIA has concluded that it is unlikely that this policy will have specific positive or negative impacts on people as a result of their age.
PIP is a benefit for disabled people or those with long term ill health conditions and any changes will have a direct impact on disabled people. The majority of PIP clients in are likely to be covered by the definition of "disability" in the Equality Act 2010.
This change may affect any PIP client who is due a large payment of arrears. The making of large payments can occur in any benefit, however DWP have advised that in recent years, large payments of arrears has mostly occurred because of a number of corrective administrative exercises, Upper Tribunal decision and court judgments. The majority have related to Employment Support Allowance (ESA) (which is a reserved benefit) and PIP. For PIP in particular there have been a number of LEAP exercises arising from decisions of the Upper Tribunal and court judgments which have re-interpreted the law. Therefore, cases involving large payments of arrears are more likely to involve people living with a disability and there is a possibility they will be proportionately more affected by the proposal to offer large payments to be made in instalments.
It is possible that individuals living with certain disabilities may find it more difficult to understand what is being offered to them in terms of the option to stagger a large payment, or who may find it challenging to advocate for themselves in terms of giving their consent.
DWP have advised that an 'Advanced Customer Support Check' will be undertaken in any PIP case where Case Managers/ Case Workers identify a concern for any one-off payment out of the customer's normal four weekly cycle. An Advanced Customer Support Check means that if any concerns are identified, DWP will take steps to support the client, taking account of their abilities and circumstances when considering appropriate steps on a claim. This may include engaging third party organisations who have statutory safeguarding duties to support the client and who can support the client to make an informed decision. There will be detailed guidance for DWP staff on how to identify when a client may be vulnerable, how to engage with clients to ensure the client is not put under pressure to agree with receiving large payments in instalments and how to signpost clients to third party support if appropriate.
DWP are also introducing an additional step for any one-off, out-of-cycle payment of £5,000 or more, even if there are no Advanced Customer Support concerns identified. In these cases a call will be made to the client to advise the client that a large payment is due and to discuss if the client can manage the payment. This could help to identify any vulnerability concerns that are not obvious from the information already held.
Data from the Papworth Trust found that women make up a small majority of disabled people in the United Kingdom (23% of females compared to 19% of males). A report by the Women's Budget Group has also found that overall, women are more likely to rely on social security than men.
As at April 2021, over half (55 per cent) of people entitled to Personal Independence Payment in Scotland were female, and 45 per cent were male.
The proposed change will be applied equally to all clients on the basis of their individual circumstances, rather than on the basis of their sex. We do not anticipate anyone to be negatively impacted by the policy on the basis of their sex. We anticipate everyone to receive positive benefits from the added flexibility of receiving instalments of large payments, and only if they consent, irrespective of their sex. However, given that females are slightly more likely to be in receipt of PIP than males, the policy may impact more on females.
Religion or belief
The DWP data that the Scottish Government has access to about those in receipt of PIP does not include information about these protected characteristics.
We have not identified any particular barriers resulting from this policy approach which may affect people with the protected characteristic of religion and belief.
DWP do not publish ethnicity data for PIP. Just under 4% of Scotland's population belong to minority ethnic groups, and 7% of our total population communicate in home languages other than English. Although statistics showing the number of people within Scotland who are in receipt of disability benefits and who belong to minority ethnic groups are not available, we know that they generally make up 3.7% of those with a reported learning disability or developmental disorder.
The Scottish Government is aware that there are particular barriers for individuals from minority ethnic groups in applying for disability benefits, especially those with English as a second language, as there may be difficulties in accessing or understanding their entitlements due to language or other communication barriers. It is possible that these clients may find it more challenging to understand the options that may be offered to them in terms of getting a large payment in instalments instead of a lump sum. DWP have advised that guidance will be provided for case workers and case managers around ensuring that clients understand the proposed option and are not put under pressure to agree.
To address this barrier, work has been undertaken by the Scottish Government with ethnic minorities alongside the main Experience Panels as part of our Benefit Take-up Strategy for devolved social security benefits delivered by Social Security Scotland.
Marriage and civil partnership
The DWP do not currently collect data on this protected characteristic. Although the Scottish Government does not require assessment against this protected characteristic unless the policy or practice relates to work (for example Human Resource policies and practices), we have not identified any particular barriers resulting from this policy which may affect people with the protected characteristic of marriage or civil partnership.
Sexual orientation and gender reassignment
In 2017, 2% of people in Scotland identified their sexual orientation as "Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or other".
There is no robust data relating to the proportion of people in Scotland to whom the gender reassignment protected characteristic applies and DWP do not collect data on this protected characteristic. We have not identified any particular barriers resulting from this policy which may affect people with the protected characteristic of sexual orientation and gender reassignment.
Pregnancy and Maternity
DWP do not have any data on the number of disabled people that fall under this protected characteristic. We have not identified any particular barriers resulting from this policy which may affect people with the protected characteristic of pregnancy and maternity.
Monitoring and Review
Under the terms of the Agency Agreements DWP have agreed to continue to monitor this policy. We will work with DWP to keep the impacts under review.