Ill Health and Disability Benefits Stakeholder Reference Group: September 2021

Minutes from the September 2021 meeting of the Disability Benefits Stakeholder Reference Group.

Attendees and apologies


  • Nathan Gale, Chair, Scottish Government
  • Stephanie Millar, CAS
  • Emilia Crighton, NHS
  • John Cunnigham, CoSLA
  • Fraser Dick, Scottish Government
  • Alan Eastwood, Scottish Government
  • Moira Escreet, CPAG
  • Charles Frederick, Scottish Government
  • Richard Gass, Rights Advice Scotland
  • Elaine Gibb, Scottish Government
  • Margaret Kate-Dickson, NHS
  • Leanne Kerr, Scottish Government,
  • Shonagh Martin, Scottish Government
  • Mhairi Mcnaught, Scottish Government
  • Natasha Miller, Scottish Government
  • Patricia Moultrie, BMA Scotland
  • Bill Scott, Inclusion Scotland
  • David Stevenson, Scottish Government
  • Cate Vallis, RNIB


  • Kate Burton, NHS
  • Jim Hume, Support in Mind Scotland
  • Gerard McFeely, NHS
  • Duncan McIntyre, Chair of Learning Disability Practice Network
  • Dr Mini Mishra, Scottish Government
  • Hannah Ross, COSLA
  • David Scott, CAS
  • Gill Young, Castle Rock Edinvar

Items and actions


Chair, Nathan Gale, welcomed members to the 22nd meeting of the Ill Health and Disability Benefits Stakeholder Reference Group.

Minutes and Scottish Government update

Members signed off the minutes from the April meeting of the group. These will be published on the Scottish Government website.

Members did not have any comments on the Scottish Government update paper.

Members requested an update on the DWP Green Paper. Officials updated that the Minister for Social Security and Local Government, Ben Macpherson, has written to the Minister for Disabled People in response to the paper. The Minister for Social Security and Local Government and Minister for Disabled People have an upcoming introductory meeting where they will also discuss the potential implications the Green Paper has for Scotland. The Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Housing and Local Government, Shona Robison, and the Secretary of State will also be meeting.

Scottish Government officials met with DWP officials to discuss the paper and have highlighted the importance of SG officials being kept up to date on discussions and engagement events taking place regarding the paper.

Members raised concerns around some of the proposals made in the green paper. Members also raised concerns that no Scottish disabled peoples organisations were consulted ahead of the green paper. Officials will feed this back to DWP Officials.

Presentation on Adult Disability Payment service design

Service Design colleagues gave members a presentation on the Adult Disability Payment application process and then members were given an opportunity to feedback and ask questions.

Members were happy with the layout of the form, they felt it was very intuitive and it was much better than the current form. Officials confirmed that the form has been through extensive usability testing with different software to ensure it is accessible using assistive technology.

Members raised concerns regarding the need to create a digital account. This could make the process more complex for some people and could slow down the process for benefits advisors. Members suggested making PDF forms available to advisors. This would allow them to easily complete an application with a client without having to register. Members also raised that a lot of appointments with advisors are now over the phone meaning advisors can’t see the clients digital or paper form without having their own copy. Officials have noted the feedback and will get back to members with more information.

Members raised concerns about the size of the form as it could be overwhelming to clients. Although every box doesn’t have to be filled in, it could put clients off of applying or completing the form correctly. Officials explained that the form will allow Social Security Scotland to gather as much information as possible in the initial stage to reduce the number of consultations that have to take place.

Members felt the form could be clearer for people with sensory impairment as they may not be physically helped with a task but instead be given guidance ahead of doing an activity. This enables people with sensory issues to complete the activity safely. Officials will take this feedback away.

Members asked if the form could include more working age people in the images throughout the form as many of the images represent older people with mobility issues. Officials confirmed that they are looking at the images included to make them more representative of clients.

Members asked if service design would be recruiting advisors to assist with testing the application. Officials would consult their user researchers about this and get back to members.

Members asked whether clients would be able to switch between using a digital form and a paper form. Officials confirmed that it depends how the client started. If a client completes part one on the digital form then they can move to an alternative method for part two. If the client completed part one on the paper form or on telephone, they won’t be able to do part two on the digital form without re-doing part one on the digital form. This is because on the digital form, part one is mandatory. 

Members asked if further changes could be made to the form after Adult Disability Payment launches. Officials confirmed that there will always be opportunities for continuous development. Processes are currently being set up for design improvements that will be made after the launch of Adult Disability Payment.

Officials asked members if there is any other areas of the service they would like to hear more about. Leanne Kerr shared her contact details and invited members to contact her with further feedback or questions. 

Action point one: Officials to circulate slides and contact details

Presentation on Fiscal Framework

Strategic Finance gave members a presentation on the Fiscal Framework review and how it impacts Social Security. This was followed by a short discussion.

Members raised concerns that the Fiscal Framework might prevent the Scottish Government from running take-up campaigns for reserved benefits. They also felt it impacts the eligibility criteria for the new disability benefits because Scottish Government are liable for any costs of decisions that result in extra spend on reserved benefits. Officials would welcome further discussions with members on this. As part of the review of the Fiscal Framework, officials will seek clarity on this.

Members suggested that if Scottish Government are unable to run their own take-up campaigns, money should be allocated to Local Government to do these instead.

Action point two: Officials to circulate slides and contact details

Role and remit discussion

Members were provided with an up to date role and remit paper and questions to consider ahead of the meeting.

Members were happy with the role and remit outlined in the paper.

Members raised questions about their individual membership on the group. Some members felt that someone else from their organisation should attend the meetings.

Members were keen for meetings to take place more regularly, aiming for four to six meetings a year. If meetings are more regular, they can be shorter and members will have more time to feed back. Members also asked that papers are circulated earlier in advance of meetings to give them more time to look at these. This will allow members to make an informed decision on their attendance at each meeting for those who don’t have capacity to attend more regular meetings.

Members asked to be given more opportunity to highlight agenda items they would like to see at future meetings. It was suggested that Agency are invited along to a future meeting to share the work that they’re doing at the moment. It was also suggested that Local Delivery Leads feedback on their work following the launch of the Child Disability Payment Pilot.

Action point three: Officials to schedule more regular meetings and circulate agenda and papers earlier

AOB and close

No other business was raised. Nathan thanked members for attending the meeting and closed.

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