Islands communities screening assessment: regulations making provision in relation to social security appeals

Islands Communities Screening Assessment of the consultation on Regulations making provision in relation to Social Security Appeals.

Consultation process

9. A consultation process was undertaken in relation to the draft Regulations between January and July 2018. This included a full public consultation [2] which ran from 22 January 2018 to 16 April 2018 and consultation with senior members of the judiciary that the 2014 Act requires. The Scottish Parliament's Social Security Committee also undertook an evidence gathering session during the full public consultation period. The consultation with the judiciary took place after the conclusion of the full public consultation.

10. The Scottish Government's full public consultation on Draft Regulations making provision in relation to Social Security Appeals in Scotland set out the vision and key principles for the draft regulations proposed for the new Chamber of the First-tier Tribunal. The consultation was in six parts, covering:

  • Establishing a New Chamber of the First-Tier Tribunal ( FtT)
  • Adding the Name of the Social Security Chamber
  • Rules of Procedure for the FtT for Scotland Social Security Chamber
  • Composition of the FtT and Upper Tribunal for Scotland ( UT)
  • Eligibility Criteria for Appointments
  • Rules of Procedure for the UT for Scotland

11. A total of 25 written responses to the consultation were received, 4 from individuals and 21 from organisations. The independent analysis of the responses was undertaken by KSO Research. Respondents represented a range of individuals and organisations with knowledge and experience of, or an interest in, social security matters, including organisations representing island interests.

12. The main issues raised by stakeholders representing the views of island and rural communities were in relation to accessibility and choice. It was recognised that Skype and other forms of video conferencing can improve accessibility and avoid the need to travel distances which can be time consuming, expensive and difficult for people living in rural and island communities. The Scottish Government is also aware of the challenges that people living in the island communities face who have to travel a great distance to attend appointments.

13. Respondents suggested that digital would not always be the best delivery model for everyone (particularly given the digital connectivity challenges in rural and island communities) and therefore other engagement channels would need to be available. There will always be some people who need face to face contact, due to digital exclusion, disability or difficulty in communicating.

14. Scottish Courts and Tribunal Services ( SCTS), as the administrator of the tribunal, has a presence across the country. Tribunal hearings can currently take place in Lerwick, Kirkwall, and Stornoway and the tribunal is also able to travel to other locations, subject to operational reasons and health and safety considerations.

15. The regulations are being taken forward, for the most part, under the Tribunals (Scotland) Act 2014 and the operationalisation of these is the responsibility of SCTS.

16. The regulations have been drafted through a wide consultative process and how different users may be impacted has been central to the consideration from the start of the process. The regulations were amended following the consultation process in order to ensure any impacts that were identified can be mitigated as far as possible. These regulations may have to change from time to time to reflect changes in economic and social conditions and as the new chamber gains further experience as it delivers the new system.

17. As with every other aspect of the work to develop the new social security system, the Scottish Government has sought to involve expert organisations and people outside of government in the development of the secondary legislation. This builds on the earlier work and commitment to work with people through the earlier consultation exercise and in the development of the 2018 Act.

18. The Scottish Government is keen to ensure that as much information as possible will be online, as well as allowing for the electronic submission of appeals. However, the Scottish Government is aware that some remote and island communities may not have access to digital services nor is it everyone's preferred choice of communication.

19. The Scottish Government is aware that people want tailored solutions to suit their different preferences and need, and will therefore work to ensure the availability of digital, telephone and face to face communication channels where possible.


Naeem Bhatti

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