Employment Injury Assistance delivery - next steps: consultation

This consultation provides an overview of the benefits that make up the Industrial Injuries Scheme and the unique complexities and challenges of transfer to the Scottish Government, and seeks views on the next steps for delivering Employment Injury Assistance.

Section 1 – The Industrial Injuries Scheme


The Industrial Injuries Scheme was introduced in 1948 to provide social security support to workers, typically from heavy, historically state-owned, industries who became disabled or developed a long-term health condition as a result of their employment. Although some minor statutory changes have been made since, the structure and administration of the Industrial Injuries Scheme has undergone little reform in 76 years.

The Scheme consists of the following seven live benefits.

Table 1: Outline of benefits included in the Industrial Injuries Scheme.

Open to new applications

Closed to new applications but some people still receive payments

Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit (IIDB)

Un-employability Supplement – closed in 1987

Constant Attendance Allowance (CAA)

Industrial Death Benefit – closed in 1988

Exceptionally Severe Disablement Allowance (ESDA)

Reduced Earnings Allowance (REA)

Retirement Allowance (RA)

There are currently around 24,000 recipients of an Industrial Injuries Scheme benefit in Scotland. The overall number of people receiving these benefits in Scotland has been decreasing by an average of around 900 people per year since 2017. This is likely due to the ageing population of those receiving an Industrial Injuries Scheme benefit. There are fewer than 1,000 new applications per year under the Scheme in Scotland. This is likely due to a combination of factors: workplaces becoming safer in general, and the Industrial Injuries Scheme's focus on industrial jobs within declining industries. The Scottish Government is expected to spend £86.6 million on benefits under the Scheme in 2024-25.

All Industrial Injuries Scheme benefits, except Industrial Death Benefit, are tax free and all are payable regardless of income. They are payable in addition to other disability benefits, for example Adult Disability Payment, but are taken into account for the purposes of income-related benefits, such as Universal Credit.

Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit

The main benefit in the Industrial Injuries Scheme is Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit (IIDB) which has around 21,000 recipients in Scotland, as of June 2023. In order to meet the eligibility criteria, someone must either;

1. have a long-term health condition or disease that is listed in a list of prescribed diseases set out in regulations[1]; or

2. be disabled as a result of an accident; and

3. the condition or injury must have arisen out of and in the course of employment, or whilst on an approved employment training scheme or course.

IIDB consists of 9 rates depending on the "percentage of disablement" determined by a DWP "medical advisor" as a result of a medical examination[2]. Someone must usually be considered at least "14% disabled" to be eligible for payment. For example, someone who experiences the loss of an index finger is generally considered "14% disabled". Assessments for accidents and diseases can be added together, or 'aggregated', over a period. The maximum rate payable is 100%. The assessment involves establishing the connection between the disability and/or disease and employment. Most people who are in receipt of IIDB receive it for life.

There are some schemes that are closely linked to the Industrial Injuries Scheme that remain reserved to the UK Government. Currently lump sum payments are available to IIDB recipients who contract an asbestos related disease through the 2008 Mesothelioma Act and the Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme (DMPS) and the Pneumoconiosis etc. (Workers Compensation) Act 1979. The 2008 Mesothelioma scheme and DMPS remain reserved to the UK Government.

An Industrial Injuries Advisory Council (IIAC) scrutinises Industrial Injuries Scheme regulations and advises the UK Government on the addition of new diseases and the occupations for which they should be prescribed. Members of the Council include scientific and medical professionals, specialists in occupational health, legal experts, and representatives of both employers and employees.

The UK Government can formally request specific pieces of advice or request IIAC to undertake consideration of whether a disease and occupation should be prescribed in legislation. To prescribe a condition for certain types of employment, a person's risk of contracting the disease must more than double due to undertaking the occupation.

The UK Government have advised that IIAC will only provide advice relating to Industrial Injuries Scheme and that they will not provide advice to the Scottish Government relating to Employment Injury Assistance.

Challenges with the current Scheme

The Scheme does not reflect the modern economy and workforce. There is a significant gender disparity within the Scheme with men making up an overwhelming majority of people receiving the main benefit, as set out in the table below.

Table 2: People in receipt of Industrial Injuries Scheme benefits by gender. Figures accurate as of June 2023[3].


IIDB only

REA and RA only

IIDB and REA and RA









The small number of women in the Scheme may be unsurprising, given its historic development and the subsequent scale of change in the employment landscape. It has been noted by the Disability and Carers Benefits Expert Advisory Group (DACBEAG[4]) that the prescribed conditions list does not currently account for many injuries and diseases common in industries in which women are more heavily represented in the workforce, which may be attributed to the lack of scientific research into the ways in which women are affected by illness[5].

Other criticisms of the Scheme can be made from an equalities perspective, including relating to race and age. People who are Black or from an ethnic minority are more at risk from workplace hazards, yet less likely to access benefits, according to the UK Government's Race Disparity Audit[6]. 64% of those in receipt of Industrial Injuries Scheme benefits are over state pension age. DWP statistics show that no applications have been received by anyone under the age of 20 in Scotland between March 2017 and June 2023. According to the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work, young people (defined as anyone between 15-24) in Europe are up to 40% more likely to suffer a work-related injury than older workers[7].

The current Scheme requires an assessment to be made of the degree to which an individual is disabled by their condition, which is represented by a percentage. These assessments are therefore more clinical in nature than those for other UK disability benefits) and that approach is not readily in line with the person-centred approach we have taken for Adult Disability Payment.


This section describes the eligibility rules and approach to administration of the current Industrial Injuries Scheme. In light of this evidence the Scottish Government believes that the priority should be to reform the Scheme to meet the needs of the modern economy and workforce and that administration should be improved so that it is delivered in line with our social security principles and provides value for money.

Question 1: Do you agree or disagree that the Industrial Injuries Scheme is not fit for purpose and should be reformed? [agree/disagree/don't know]

Please give reasons for your answer.


Email: EIAconsultation@gov.scot

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