The Social Security (Scotland) Act 2018 received Royal Assent on 01 June 2018. The Equality Impact Assessment for the Social Security (Scotland) Bill was published on 20 June 2017 and is available here. The 2018 Act transposed eleven benefits onto a Scottish legislative platform, allowing the Scottish Ministers to shape a new and distinctly Scottish benefits system, with dignity and respect being core to its approach. These are: Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independence Payment, Attendance Allowance, Severe Disablement Allowance and Industrial Injuries Scheme; Carer's Allowance; Sure Start Maternity Grants; Funeral Payments; Cold Weather Payments and Winter Fuel Payments; and Discretionary Housing Payments. The 2018 Act provides for a supplementary payment to persons receiving Carer's Allowance, pending the transposition of that benefit onto a Scottish legislative platform. The 2018 also contains powers to create new benefits. The most relevant of which for the purpose of the Social Security Administration and Tribunal Membership (Scotland) Bill 2020 is the power to provide in regulations for top up of reserved benefits.
Also relevant for the purposes of the Bill, is the fact that the 2018 Act set out an overarching legislative framework for the administration of social security in Scotland, making provision for operational functions such as managing overpayments, fraud, error and appeals.
The requirement for this Bill has arisen from the identification by the Scottish Government of a need to create statutory offences in primary legislation in relation to forms of assistance provided for under section 79 of the Social Security (Scotland) Act 2018 (top up of a reserved benefit). The Bill also addresses a small number of other matters relating to social security administration and Tribunal membership, which need to be made in order to ensure the continued effective implementation of the 2018 Act.
The remaining paragraphs set out the evidence base underpinning the equality impact assessment that was carried out for the Bill.
In 2018 there were around 1.03 million children under the age of 18 in Scotland. As of August 2019, around 41,600 children under age 18 were in receipt of Disability Living Allowance for Children (DLA Child). Of these, around 40,200 were under age 16.
The Scottish Health Survey 2018 found that around 12% of young people in Scotland (under the age of 16) had a limiting long-term physical or mental health condition.
In the current UK Government Social Security legislation, a person is deemed terminally ill by the UK Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) if they have 'a progressive disease and their death as a consequence of that disease can be reasonably expected within six months'. This is described as 'special rules' provision.
Information published by DWP shows that in Scotland:
- for people over State Pension age, 3,300 people were entitled to Attendance Allowance (AA) and 370 to Disability Living Allowance under these provisions, representing 2% of the pension age caseload at August 2019 (the last available data point);
- for people of working age, 3,200 people were entitled to Personal Independence Payment (PIP) under these provisions, representing 1% of the PIP caseload as at October 2019 (the last available data point); and
- for children and young people under age 16, 20 people were entitled to Disability Living Allowance for Children (DLA Child) under these provisions as at August 2019.
At 31 July 2018, there were an estimated 14,738 looked after children (under 18 years old) in Scotland, accounting for around 2% of all children in Scotland. The most common setting was 'kinship care', with 28% of the total looked after children being looked after by relatives or friends.
At the time of the 2011 census, 96% of Scotland's population identified as "White" while 4% identified as belonging to another ethnic group. In 2011, 7% of Scotland's population communicated in languages other than English at home while data from 2019 shows that this is true for 9% of children registered for Early Learning & Childcare in Scotland.
We do not have statistics showing the number of children and young people within Scotland who apply for disability benefits and who belong to minority ethnic groups.
However, UK wide information from the 2015/16-2017/2018 suggests that minority ethnic families in all age groups are slightly less likely to claim DLA than white families, with a slight exception for Bangladeshi families who are more likely to receive the DLA care component.
In the 2011 census, both for the general population and the 0-24 age group, white people are more likely to say their day to day activities are limited "a lot" or "a little" by their long-term health conditions, compared to their share in the population. This is not true for any of the other ethnic categories apart from "Caribbean or Black" respondents aged 0-24 who are slightly more likely to say their day-to-day activity is limited "a little".
However analysis of 2011 census health data shows that there was a wide variation in health problems or disability amongst men and women from different ethnic groups. Women from three groups - Bangladeshi, Pakistani and Gypsy/Traveller - recorded higher rates of 'health problem or disability' than women from the 'White: Scottish' ethnic group, while men from only two ethnic groups - Pakistani and Gypsy/Traveller - recorded higher rates of 'health problem or disability' than men from the 'White: Scottish' ethnic group.
At the time of the 2011 Census, just over 4,000 people in Scotland (0.1% of the population) identified their ethnic group as 'White: Gypsy/Traveller'. Generally, Gypsy/Traveller households were more likely to contain dependent children (36% compared to 26% of the population as a whole) and they were three times more likely to contain 'three or more' dependent children. The number of Gypsy/Traveller children who receive disability benefits under the current system is unknown.
According to latest data published by Scottish Surveys Core Question in 2019, 50% of respondents identified as having "no religion" while 47% identified as Christian ("Church of Scotland", "Roman Catholic" or "other Christian"), 2% as Muslim, and 2% as an "other religion". Once age was taken into account, in comparison to those with no religious affiliation a lower proportion of "other" religious groups reported good/very good general health and a higher proportion reported having a limiting long-term condition. "Other Christians" reported a higher level of good/very good general health than the "no religion" reference group.
Work was carried out to assess impacts of the Social Security Administration and Tribunal Membership (Scotland) Bill in terms of eliminating unlawful
discrimination, harassment and victimisation; advancing equality of opportunity; and promoting good relations among and between different groups. The evidence base for the following protected characteristics was reviewed and assessed: age, disability, gender reassignment, pregnancy or maternity, race, sex, sexual orientation and religion and belief.
The policy background to the Bill and further information about the specific provisions is fully described in the Policy Memorandum published on the Scottish Parliament's website.