Ill Health and Disability Benefits Stakeholder Reference Group: June 2017

Minutes from the June 2017 meeting of the Ill Health and Disability Benefits Stakeholder Reference Group.

Attendees and apologies


  • Bill Scott, Inclusion Scotland
  • Donna Burnett, NHS
  • Dr Neil MacRitchie, BMA
  • Ed Pybus, CPAG
  • Gerard McFeely, NHS Lothian
  • Gill Young, Castle Rock Edinvar
  • Graham Watt, University of Glasgow
  • Nicola Dickie, CoSLA
  • Richard Gass, Rights Advice Scotland
  • Rob Gowans, Citizens Advice
  • Yvette Burgess, CCPS
  • Layla Thiener, DAS
  • Dr Mini Mishra, Scottish Government
  • Nikola Plunkett, Scottish Government (Chair)
  • Ruth Candlish, Scottish Government
  • Liz Davidson, Scottish Government
  • Ed Orr, Scottish Government
  • Carol Anne Hackland, Scottish Government


  • Jim Carle, SG Disabled Children and Young Peoples Advisory Group
  • Kate Burton, NHS

Items and actions

Welcome and Introductions

1. The Chair welcomed Layla Theiner from Disability Action Scotland (DAS) to the group.

Minutes of meeting 18 April 2017

2. The draft minutes had been circulated and some amendments made. Further amendments were put forward at the meeting, 1) to remove the apostrophe in Citizens Advice and 2) reword the bullet points on page 2 on the advice sector. Officials will revisit the minutes, make the amendments and re-circulate to members for comment.

3. There were 17 action points from the meeting on 18 April, 13 had been completed with 4 still outstanding.

2017/25: SG Welfare Reform scrutiny
2017/21: To secure new Social Work Scotland representative
2017/20: To discuss the Experience Panels
2017/12: Take up campaign figures

SG Update

Social Security Bill

4. The Social Security Bill will be introduced to Parliament before the summer recess. The Bill will briefly define the benefits as is a high level enabling bill, all the detail will be contained in the secondary legislation. Detail will include a commitment to a human rights based approach with a Charter based on dignity and respect. The Bill will also place a requirement on the Scottish Government to report to Government on how they are delivering. The Bill will be considered by the Social Security Committee in the autumn alongside the draft regulations.

Child Disability Living Allowance (DLA)

5. Ministers have made a commitment that children can stay on Disability Living Allowance (DLA) until they reach age 18; current UK Government eligibility for child DLA is until the child reaches their 16 birthday. Officials are currently looking at the experience of 16 – 18 year olds who are going through transition. Engagement will take place by correspondence with members over the summer period, and members should indicate interest by email.


6. Two short term co-production projects were run by the Glasgow Disability Alliance (GDA) and The Alliance. A further in-depth discussion will be held on this area at the next group meeting.

Stakeholder Engagement

7. Over 2,400 people have signed up to be part of the social security experience panels. Officials passed on their thanks to all members and their organisations that helped and supported with the recruitment, which without their support this number would not have been possible. SG analysts are now looking at how best to utilise peoples experience and ‘About You’ letters have been issued to everyone who signed up to help tease out their experience of the current system.

8. The next stage will be Information Roadshows and further information will be sent out shortly on how organisations can get involved. A variety of information channels will be used to publicise to public. Members asked that people who find it hard to engage using conventional methods were thought about and methods to engage considered.

Take-up Campaign

9. The next phase of the take-up campaign commences today, 12 June. The focus of this campaign will be Young Carers and ensuring those who are entitled make a claim to Carer’s Allowance.

Welfare Reform Scrutiny

10. The Scottish Government is considering the best way to take forward parts of the work of the Welfare Reform Scrutiny Group, especially around wider communication on social security. Members expressed concern that there is no direct channel to raise concerns about UK welfare reform with Scottish Ministers. It was also felt that a forum dealing with the challenges of moving from the UK Government system to the new Scottish system would be beneficial.

Duration of Awards Update

11. The sub-group has met twice to date and is chaired by Rob Gowans from Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS), with a mix of third sector, health and government representatives. The group has considered the role of automatic entitlement, award duration and the inclusion of dignity and respect within the process. Medical definitions were not discussed as the medical member was not present.

12. The group also considered the role of reviews, including having a clear system for why a review was being undertaken. A straightforward process should be implemented with dignity and trust incorporated.

13. The group are meeting again in July and will look at conditions, evidence used in decision making, Paul Gray’s review of PIP and international comparisons. The group aim to put forward their recommendations in October.

Workshop: The Use of Language

14. Members were asked to split into groups to consider the use of language around devolved benefits and the wider social security system to help the work around producing a glossary of terms for use within the social security directorate and, in the longer term, the agency. Members considered 1) any words or phrases used around social security that required clarification 2) words that should be avoided 3) sources that could be used to help develop the approach.

Role, Remit and Membership of the Ill Health and Disability Reference Group


15. Layla Thiener has joined the group from Disability Agenda Scotland (DAS) who represent Enable and SAMH among others and will represent those with learning disabilities and mental health issues. COSLA are still working on a name to represent Social Work Scotland. Richard Gass will no longer represent SGLP but will continue to attend as a member on behalf of Rights Advice Scotland.

16. Members also proposed a new member who would represent the rural community.

Expert Advisory Group

17. The Disability and Carer Benefits Expert Advisory Group met last week and has a formal remit... The Expert Group members were invited to join the group as individuals, not to represent their organisations, and the group will report directly to Ministers. The intention is the Expert Group will provide a strategic view but it is too early to provide more detail. Members expressed concerns over how the Expert Group will fit in the individual stakeholder groups and who has the overall strategic view.

18. The Chair of the group Jim McCormick had met separately with 3 or 4 members of the Ill Health and Disability Reference Group but will be invited to attend the next Advisory Group meeting in August.

Role and Remit

19. Members agreed to review the role and remit of the reference group following the meeting with Dr McCormick and further information on the role of the Expert Group.

Use of Evidence for Disability Benefits – Presentation

20. Rhiannon Sims from Citizens Advice Scotland gave a presentation to the group using ‘Burden of Proof – The Role of Medical Evidence in the Benefits System’

21. A general discussion on evidence used for the benefits system followed with a timetabled discussion to be held on this area at a future meeting.

Action Points

Meeting 9

Action Status Number Action Owner
New 2017/27 To amend / update Richard Gass’ role on remit / minutes as Rights Advice Scotland SG
New 2017/28 To hold a session with members on experience panels SG
New 2017/29 To keep members informed on the benefit take-up campaigns SG
New 2017/30 To add action points in table at the end of the minute SG
New 2017/31 To consider funding for third sector organisations being asked to help with summer roadshows SG
New 2017/32 To inform members of the SG lead on Welfare Reform SG
New 2017/33 To look at members request for a direct channel for communication with Ministers around welfare reform SG
New 2017/34 To look at SG response to Paul Gray’s review of PIP and inform members if a full response is planned / was published SG
New 2017/35 To circulate detailed write-up from workshop on the Use of Language SG
New 2017/36 To approach a rural representative for the Group via contacts in the Islands / SG rural teams SG
New 2017/37 To review role and remit of reference group in December 2017 SG
New 2017/38 To invite Jim McCormick, Chair of the Expert Advisory Group, to the next Reference Group meeting SG
New 2017/39 To organise a discussion at future meeting around evidence SG
New 2017/40 Recirculate slide pack on CAS The Use of Evidence ahead of workshop on Data Mapping in August SG
New 2017/41 To provide suggestions for workshop on advice and advocacy to SG policy officials Members

Meeting 8

Action Status Number Action Owner
C/F 2017/21 CoSLA / SG to identify and approach a health and social care / Social Work Scotland representative SG / CoSLA
C/F 2017/05 Report back to IHDBSRG on short-term co-production projects SG



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