Ill Health and Disability Benefits Stakeholder Reference Group: April 2016

Minutes from the April 2016 meeting of the Ill Health and Disability Benefits Stakeholder Reference Group.

Attendees and apologies


  • Bill Scott, Inclusion Scotland
  • Annie Gunner Logan, CCPS
  • Jim Carle, Kibble
  • Jon Shaw, CPAG
  • Gerry McFeely, NHS Lothian
  • Rob Gowans, CAS
  • Nicola Dickie, COSLA
  • Beth Hall, COSLA
  • Richard Gass, Glasgow City Council representing SLGP
  • Kate Burton, NHS Lothian
  • Graham Watt, Deep End GPs
  • Gill Young, Castle Rock Edinvar
  • David Formstone, East Dunbartonshire Council representing Social Work Scotland
  • Pauline Davidson, Scottish Government, Chair
  • Jamie MacDougall, Scottish Government
  • Laura Ross, Scottish Government
  • Liz Davidson, Scottish Government


  • Emilia Crichton, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde
  • Donna Burnett, NHS Health Scotland
  • Lucy Rennie, NHS Dundee
  • Ian Tasker, STUC

Items and actions

Minutes of meeting 15 March 2016

1. The minutes of the previous meeting were agreed.

Group Role and Remit

2. The members list had been updated with new members. Gill Young was welcomed onto the Group.

SG Update

3. SG policy team are developing material for the consultation on social security powers and legislation, and aim to seek members’ views in shaping questions. The chair agreed to invite the lead lawyer, working on the legislation, to the next meeting to lead a discussion on the process and opportunities attached to creating primary legislation on social security.

Action – SG legal official to be invited to the next meeting.

4. Based on various political manifestos it is possible that a Commission would be set up for disability benefits.

5. SG analysts are setting up user panels which will involve gathering views from over a thousand people.

Purpose and Outcomes (paper IHDBSRG 2/2016)

6. At the previous reference Group meeting it had been put forward that there needed to be further discussion around the purpose of the benefit. A clear message received back from stakeholders and users was to prioritise a smooth and seamless transition from a recipient’s point of view.

7. The Group discussed what the main purpose and outcomes of the benefits should be. The main points going forward in the short term were:

  • Benefits should remain non-means tested;
  • They should be viewed as an entitlement;
  • There needs to be better support structures in place to help people access disability benefits; and,
  • A period of stability is required which prioritises a smooth transition

8. The Group then considered the priorities for the longer term. The main consensus for areas for change were:

  • Current benefit process did not adequately capture the needs of those with mental health or fluctuating conditions. Processes needed built in to reflect the subtleties of those diseases;
  • Any assessments should take place in a location near to where the person lives;
  • Applications should be simplified and formatted to gather the correct evidence and also reflect the benefit criteria to enable reasoned decision on entitlement;
  • Any alternatives to a cash payment should remain an option not mandatory; and,
  • Better alignment with other parts of the system is a good ambition. However the Group felt the priority should be that the new powers should not clash with current powers.

Action – SG to update the Purpose and Outcomes paper and circulate for further comment/sign off. It could then be fed into the programme and wider work on outcomes and scenario planning.

Approach: Methology

9. There is an opportunity to look at how benefits could be improved in Scotland in the medium to longer term. The Group need to take into account financial constraints, but should not to be constrained in putting forward views and ideas.

10. The Group felt that a single benefit should be explored to replace DLA (for under 16s), PIP and Attendance Allowance. It was also felt that the PIP points-based process and DLA decision-maker process both had some merit. There needed to be a clear understanding of where the barrier was set to make it clear whether or not an individual would qualify. There was a consensus of opinion that not everybody needed an independent assessment.

11. The Group then spent some time discussing the possible access to GP records which could be used in the decision making process. This would give confirmation of illness, medication, treatment and not take up GP time with writing individual medical reports. The Group was advised that a system is already being trialled in Edinburgh with welfare rights officers based in hospitals able to access this information and has produced good results. The Group also felt that the evidence could not solely rely on the applicant statement and did need to be complemented by suitable medical evidence. The benefits also need to have some form of formal assessment of the evidence, though fewer face to face assessments should be required.

12. Lifetime awards should be reinstated for conditions that are lifelong or likely to deteriorate with improvement unlikely. This would save the stress of continual reassessment for the person and also the cost of the reassessment.

13. SG chair would commission further work around the issues with a view to the future establishment of a smaller group to progress this work.

Action – SG to commission further work.

Workplan and Working Groups (paper IHDBSRG 2/2016)

14. The paper had been circulated to members prior to the meeting and the Group were happy for topics to be scheduled in for future meetings.



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