Publication - Consultation paper

Social Security in Scotland: consultation (summary version)

Published: 29 Jul 2016
Strategy and Constitution Directorate
Part of:
Communities and third sector

The shortened version of the consultation on the future of social security including policy, delivery and operational issues.

Social Security in Scotland: consultation (summary version)
Part 2: Devolved Benefits

Part 2: Devolved Benefits

We would like to discuss powers over specific benefits which will transfer to Scotland. We will refer to these as the 'devolved benefits'. We understand that, when thinking about a new Scottish social security system, many people will think first and foremost about how this will affect the benefits that they currently receive. That is why we want to be clear, in relation to all of the devolved benefits, what we are considering and how we will take users views into account.

This summary version of the full consultation only provides limited text. To see all of the consultation text please click here to access the full consultation [8] .

Powers are being devolved over the following benefits:-

The Scottish Government also proposes to use its new powers in order to introduce a new Job Grant for young people, who have been unemployed for more than 6 months, and who are entering the labour market.

Icon representing disability benefits Ill Health and Disability Benefits

We wish to seek your views on existing UK disability benefits and how they operate. We would like to ask you some questions that will help us plan the transfer of powers over these benefits to the Scottish Government and the type of reform that is required.

Over 500,000 people in Scotland receive these benefits - currently delivered through Disability Living Allowance, Attendance Allowance and Personal Independence Payment - and this is an opportunity to gather views, insights and experiences that can help the Scottish Government to improve the process and to ensure that dignity and respect are firmly built into the new system.

We'd like to know what is right and wrong with the current system and the specific areas for change within all aspects of the process, such the criteria for making awards, the application, the assessment, the award and the overall purpose of the benefits.

In the short term, a secure and smooth transition to devolved disability benefit payments will be our priority. This is to ensure that transfer arrangements are well communicated and every recipient continues to receive their benefits. But, we are committed to improvements as soon as practicable. For example, a consistent theme that has emerged from our engagement with people over the past year has been that there should be a transparent and easy-to-access process of application, and that the approach to assessment and consideration of people's claims needs to be reformed to make sure it treats people with dignity and respect.

We are also looking at ways in which we can help lower costs for disabled people and carers. One way of doing this could be by looking to learn from the success of the Motability scheme. We would like to offer recipients the option to spend some their award on other services. For example, we have heard how disabled people face higher energy costs and we would like to offer discounted energy tariffs.

We also have aspirations for the longer term. For example, we want to ensure that disability benefits work as effectively as possible with other devolved services such as health and social care and housing, and to explore the potential for a 'whole-of-life' disability benefit that is responsive to people's needs at different stages of their lives.

Please click here to go to the section on disability benefits in our full consultation document

Icon representing carer’s allowance Carer's Allowance

There are around 759,000 unpaid adult carers in Scotland who fulfil a vital role in our society by caring for family, friends and neighbours, including people with multiple and complex needs.

Caring can be a rewarding and positive experience for both carers and those being cared for. However, caring is also associated with poor psychological wellbeing and physical health. It can restrict opportunities to participate fully in society, including in work and education.

The Scottish Government is committed to increasing Carer's Allowance so that it is paid at the same level as Jobseeker's Allowance. That is almost an 18% increase and eligible carers will each get around £600 more a year. We will also consider the introduction of a Young Carers Allowance to provide extra support for young people with significant caring responsibilities.

We want to develop a Scottish carer's benefit which helps deliver positive experiences and outcomes for carers, and is embedded in our wider carers' strategy. That means it should help, not hinder, access to opportunities to lead a fulfilling life beyond caring. This could be through better joining up with devolved services, and in the longer term, addressing the barriers to work and study in the current Carer's Allowance. This has to be achieved within the resources available and integrated with the wider social security system.

Please click here to go to the section on Carer's Allowance in our full consultation document

Icon representing Best Start Grant Best Start Grant

The Scottish Government proposes to introduce a new 'Best Start Grant', which will replace the existing Sure Start Maternity Grant, which pays qualifying families £500 on the birth of their first child only. The Best Start Grant will increase that payment to £600. It will also make a payment of £300 on the birth of second and subsequent children, and two new payments of £250 when children begin nursery and again when they start school.

The support provided through the new Best Start Grant will play an important part in reducing inequalities and will help close the gap in educational attainment. Our aim is to design a benefit that is easy to access and that provides effective support to families at key transitions in the early years, as part of a wider package of early years support.

We wish to explore the important decisions to be made in designing the new benefit and consider the various options available.

Please click here to go to the section on the Best Start Grant in our full consultation document

Icon representing funeral payments Funeral Payments

The current DWP funeral payment is a grant for people on certain low income benefits who are responsible for paying for a funeral.

The Scottish Government sees the funeral payment as one of the ways to help tackle funeral poverty, and want to reach more people with the funeral payment to reduce the need for borrowing. We also want to create a more predictable benefit, so that people can make better informed decisions when they are committing to paying for a funeral.

We are seeking views on how you think this could be achieved.

Please click here to go to the section on the Funeral Payments in our full consultation document

Icon representing winter fuel and cold weather payments Winter Fuel & Cold Weather Payments

The Winter Fuel Payment is a universal, annual tax-free payment made to pensioners to help towards their winter heating costs. In 2014-15 (the most recent statistics), over 1 million individuals received a Winter Fuel Payment in Scotland, with a total expenditure of over £180 million.

Cold Weather Payments are means-tested payments designed to help those on low incomes meet additional fuel costs during periods of cold weather. In 2015-16, there were an estimated 415,000 individuals eligible for Cold Weather Payments in Scotland with 119,000 actually receiving a payment and a total expenditure of £3.4 million.

Please click here to go to the section on the Winter Fuel and Cold Weather Payments in our full consultation document

Icon representing discretionary housing payment Discretionary Housing Payments

Discretionary Housing Payments ( DHPs) are currently made by local authorities, with guidance from DWP, and are aimed at helping people who need further financial assistance to meet their housing costs.

Individuals whose housing benefit or Universal Credit ( UC) has been reduced as a result of welfare changes such as the 'bedroom tax', the benefit cap or Local Housing Allowance can be awarded a DHP.

We propose that DHPs continue to operate in the same way once the Scottish Parliament has full control over all DHP funding.

Please click here to go to the section on Discretionary Housing Payments in our full consultation document

Icon representing universal credit flexibilities Universal Credit flexibilities

The Scotland Act 2016 provides Scottish Ministers with some flexibilities over the way UC is calculated and paid. The Scottish flexibilities are being introduced to make it easier for claimants to manage their UC payments. These are:

  • Having the option of being paid UC twice a month rather than monthly
  • Having the option of the rent element being paid direct to social landlords

These changes are intended to give the claimant more choice and control over their UC payments. Draft regulations for the first two flexibilities are being written and a further technical consultation is planned for these.

We also have the potential to introduce other flexibilities including the opportunity to offer tenants in the private rented sector the same choice of having their rent paid directly to their landlord and the power to vary the existing plans for single household payments of UC. These are the proposals we want to ask about in this consultation.

Please click here to go to the section on Universal Credit Flexibilities in our full consultation document

Icon representing job grant Job Grant

The Scottish Government proposes to introduce a new Job Grant to help young people aged 16-24 who are returning to work after a period of 6 months unemployment, and would be payment of £100, or £250 for those who have children. We plan to supplement this cash payment with free bus travel for a three month period.

Please click here to go to the section on the Job Grant in our full consultation document


If you have printed this document or are reading it in paper form, please use the space provided below to write down your answers for Part 2. Please use additional paper if you wish.

In Part 2, we have set out approaches and proposals on:

  • Ill Health and Disability Benefits
  • Carer's Allowance
  • Best Start Grant
  • Funeral Payments
  • Winter Fuel and Cold Weather Payments
  • Discretionary Housing Payments
  • Universal Credit
  • Job Grant

You may want to provide feedback on all of these or just some of them. Please tell us which proposals you are providing feedback on when you answer the two key questions below:

What do you think about the proposals outlined in Part 2?

Do you have any further views on the topics covered in Part 2?


Email: Edward Orr,