Conclusions and Recommendations
The Scottish Government considers that the provision on appointment of an appropriate adult to act on behalf of a child will have a positive impact on children and young people by advancing equality of opportunity for some of the most vulnerable children who will be entitled to social security assistance on account of disability.
The provisions regarding appointees for adults with capacity and non-disclosure of harmful information will make social security more accessible for people who may be vulnerable (either because of age, or a health condition or disability), and for whom it may not be appropriate to disclose certain harmful evidence. In terms of the public sector equality duty, this is considered to advance equality of opportunity among people who share a relevant protected characteristic and persons who do not share it.
This EQIA has not identified any direct impacts on person with protected characteristics from the provisions which create new statutory offences or the from the proposed transfer of jurisdiction to the FTT for Scotland. However a number of indirect impacts have been identified, mainly in relation to ensuring that any communications between individuals and the Scottish Ministers meet the requirements of section 4 of the 2018 Act (recognition of importance of inclusive communication). This will be of particular importance in those cases where service users have additional requirements linked to language, culture or understanding of services as a result of any protected characteristic.
The changes that the Bill makes in relation to the investigation of statutory offences under the 2018 Act is to extend the type of assistance that can be investigated, but without altering the investigative powers available to, or legal restraints placed on, investigative officers investigating under the Social Security Assistance (Investigation of Offences) (Scotland) Regulations 2020. Therefore, no new impacts have been identified by this provision that were not already identified by the EQIA carried out in December 2019 in relation to the Social Security Assistance (Investigation of Offences) (Scotland) Regulations 2020 which relates to the investigation of fraud in relation to assistance provided under Part 2 of the 2018 Act.
Widening the category of healthcare professionals who may diagnose an illness as terminal for the purpose of entitlement to Disability Assistance is considered to have a neutral impact on the Scottish Ministers' responsibility to eliminate discrimination, advance equality of opportunity and foster good relations. The provision is intended to make it easier and quicker to establish an individual's entitlement to assistance on account of terminal illness. In so far as an individual's terminal illness may be linked to their old-age or a disability, this measure could be said to have a positive impact on the need to minimise disadvantage suffered by persons with these protected characteristics.
With regard to the provision targeted to ensure that the Social Security Chamber has access to a wider pool of judiciary to manage the anticipated case volumes from 2021 onwards, no impacts related to protected characteristics have been identified. The provisions will allow for a more efficient Social Security Chamber which supports the most vulnerable in society.