Ill Health and Disability Benefits Stakeholder Reference Group: March 2016

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

Attendees and apologies


  • Bill Scott, Inclusion Scotland
  • Jon Shaw, Child Poverty Action Group
  • Rob Gowans, Citizens Advice Scotland
  • Nicola Dickie, COSLA
  • Beth Hall, COSLA
  • Richard Gass, Glasgow City Council (representing SLGP)
  • Kate Burton, NHS Lothian
  • Donna Burnett, NHS Health Scotland
  • Ali Blair, Addiction Services, Edinburgh Council
  • Graham Watt, Deep End GPs
  • David Formstone, East Dunbarton Council (representing Social Work Scotland)
  • Jamie MacDougall, Scottish Government, Chair
  • Laura Ross, Scottish Government
  • Steph Fezas-Vital, Scottish Government
  • Calum Webster, Scottish Government
  • Liz Davidson, Scottish Government


  • Annie Gunner-Logan, Coalition of Care and Support Providers in Scotland
  • Jim Carle, Kibble
  • Lucy Rennie, NHS Dundee
  • Gerard McFeely, NHS Lothian
  • Ian Tasker, Scottish Trades Union Congress
  • Pauline Davidson, Scottish Government
  • Michael McClements, COSLA
  • Emilia Crighton, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde

Items and actions

Welcome and Introductions

1. The Chair welcomed everyone to the first meeting of the Reference Group and introductions were made by members. Members were asked to identify any particular areas that were a priority for them and their organisation. A range of issues were raised including: the importance of disabled people being involved in helping shape decisions; the focus of preventative spend and improving outcomes; the importance of maintaining a system of universal cash benefits; health inequalities and tackling poverty; looking at different income streams; the opportunities created by through integrated care, particularly in relation to primary care and welfare rights; grasping the chance to do things differently; learn lessons from other transitions and avoid ‘pitfalls’.

Setting the Scene

2. The Chair provided some background on the policy, delivery and legislative position of the devolution of the disability-related benefits. It covered:

  • The key features of Disability Living Allowance (DLA), Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and Attendance Allowance (AA).
  • Through the 2015 Scotland Act the Scottish Government will gain the powers and funding for 11 devolved benefits from the UK Government. The overall funding for the devolved benefits amounts to £2.7 billion annually, of this £2 billion is spent on DLA, PIP and AA paid to around 500,000 people.
  • The Fiscal Framework is now agreed. Future changes to UK legislation could have serious impact on the devolved SG budgets but a case could be made to the Scottish Government for additional resources.
  • The establishment of a national Social Security agency has been agreed for Scotland but this will not preclude joint working with other agencies.
  • A wide range of stakeholder engagement has taken place over the past year and the views and evidence gathered has helped set out the key issues and opportunities for change, this is largely reflected in the Scottish Government paper - A New Future for Social Security in Scotland.

Reference Group: Role and Remit

3. The Group were asked to consider their role and remit and whether the draft paper could be refined to better reflect their priorities and ambitions. It was agreed that members would further consider and submit comments after the meeting. The Group discussed whether any sectors were under-represented and the following areas were to be considered for involvement in future sessions: Mental health representative body; Benefit recipients; Housing; DWP; Employability; Academics; and, Allied Health Professionals.

Action Point 1: Group members to provide any comments on the role and remit paper for refinement and agreement at the next meeting.

Social Security Benefits – Outcomes

4. The Group considered the proposed outcomes paper and discussed whether it met its aims, worked well with the outcomes of other public sector bodies, and with the principles that had been established for the new social security approach. There was wide-ranging discussion and the secretariat agreed to amend the paper to reflect some of the comments. The Group were supportive of the introduction of outcomes as a way of embedding the principles into the system, and as way of aligning social security with existing services and support for disabled people. Comments made at the meeting included:

  • the purpose of the benefits needs to be discussed with a modern perception of disability reflected;
  • the adequacy of the amount of the benefit should feature;
  • evidence-based design principle should be reflected;
  • people’s quality of life and opportunity to work or contribute in other ways should be a focus;
  • maximising of future resources through take-up campaigns was highlighted as an area for consideration;
  • the outcomes need to have something built in to address reviews and safeguard against fraud and error;
  • error and fraud should be regarding as separate issues to be dealt with in separate ways;
  • the new approach should embody a culture that welcomes opportunities to deal with ‘bad news’ and difficulties rather than dismiss it;
  • principle of continuous improvement needs to be measured in some way; and,
  • the document should be in plain and accessible language.

Action Point 2: SG to arrange discussion on the purpose of disability benefits at the next meeting. Action Point 3: SG to ensure document is accessible and in plain language. Action Point 4: SG to update and reissue the Principles and Outcomes paper for Group members to refine and agree at the next meeting.

Workplan, including dates for next meetings

5. Members agreed to provide comments on the paper in advance of the next meeting with a view to it being signed off at that point.

Action Point 5: Group members to provide any comments on the workplan paper for refinement and agreement at the next meeting.



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