Response 1030209309

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Information About You

What is your name?

Name
Mark Simpson

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Ticked Individual
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Fixing the principles in legislation

Which way do you think principles should be embedded in the legislation?

Please select one item
A. As a 'Claimant Charter'?
Ticked B. Placing principles in legislation?
C. Some other way
If other, please specify
The two approaches need not be mutually exclusive. A Charter could still be drafted in addition to a legislative statement of principles.

What should be in the charter?

What should be in the charter
A charter could published, subsidiary to the legislation, and could explain in greater detail what is meant by the principles in practice. Being more flexible than the legislation, it could be revised periodically to reflect how the principles have been put into action through the emerging Scottish social security system and ways in which the system has struggled to live up to the principles.

Should the charter be drafted by:

Please select one item
An advisory group?
A wider group of potential user and other groups or organisations?
Ticked Both
Some other way
If other, please specify
An advisory group of experts with knowledge of social security and citizens with first-hand experience of and expertise in the lived experience of using the social security system will have different, complementary contributions to make.

We are considering whether or not to adopt the name, "Claimant Charter". Can you think of another name that would suit this proposal better? If so, what other name would you choose?

We are considering whether or not to adopt the name, "Claimant Charter".
‘Claimant charter’ is not an ideal name because it is potentially divisive. Most of us are direct beneficiaries of social security at some point in our lives and all of us are indirect beneficiaries. The ‘vision’ arguably reflects this. Further, principles 1, 3 and 5 (at least) are not exclusively relevant to current claimants. So while I am not in a position to propose an alternative name, it would be useful if one could be found that reflects the importance of social security to all citizens and not only current claimants.

On whom would you place a duty to abide by the principle that claimants should be treated with dignity and respect?

Please select one item
The Scottish Government
The Scottish Ministers
The Chief Executive of the Social Security Agency
Ticked Someone else
If someone else, please specify
It is important that high level policymakers and those with ultimate responsible for the delivery of services are subject to a duty to ensure claimants are treated with dignity and respect. All three types of individual listed above should therefore be subject to the duty. However, the average claimant’s interaction with the system is with street level decision makers and advisers in social security offices. Research shows that treatment of claimants can be affected by the atmosphere in a local office as much as by the policy framework (eg Altreiter & Leibetseder’s work on social assistance decision making in Austria). It would therefore be desirable for this principle in particular to permeate the entire system, perhaps to the point of inclusion in employment contracts.

Do you have any further comments on placing principles in legislation?

further comments on placing principles in legislation
Placing the principles in legislation is to be welcomed, but is not a guaranteed panacea for the problems in the system. Consideration should be given to wording the principles with sufficient precision that failure to comply could be judicially reviewed (as with the Northern Ireland Executive’s failure to produce an anti-poverty strategy), and to whether there is a hierarchy of principles in the event of a clash (eg between principle 5 and one of the previous principles).

Do you have any further comments or suggestions in relation to our overall approach, to fix our principles in legislation? For example, do you feel that there is no need to fix principles in legislation?

comments or suggestions in relation to our overall approach, to fix our principles in legislation
While a claimant charter has much merit, embedding the principles in the primary legislation arguably gives them greater force and makes them more difficult to amend in the future. A claimant charter could also be published, but in addition to the inclusion of the principles in the legislation. A danger of relying on a claimant charter as the sole source of principles is that it risks entrenching the perception that social security is something society provides for the benefit of certain people (claimants). The Scottish Government, commendably, appears committed to approaching social security from the premise that it is a social good for the benefit of all of society, and placing the principles in the legislation appears to be a better way of conveying this message. Perhaps if there is a future vote for independence the principles could form part of a new constitutional statement of citizens’ social rights.

Outcomes and the User Experience

Are the outcomes the right high level outcomes to develop and measure social security in Scotland?

Please explain why.
The desired outcomes are largely commendable; ensuring social security is valued like other public services is particularly welcome given recent erosion of confidence, at times actively encouraged by policymakers. Some may be difficult to deliver eg how to determine whether a Scottish system works ‘effectively’ alongside a reserved system if it happens that their objectives fundamentally diverge? How to determine who the ‘right’ people are when targeting support?

Are there any other outcomes that you think we should also include (and if so, why)?

ny other outcomes that you think we should also include
The aim of impacting on poverty and inequality is welcome, but greater clarity what kind of impact would be welcome, not necessarily at this early stage but as policy is developed. This could in turn play an important role in determining whether and how the top-up power should be used.

How can the Scottish social security system ensure all social security communications are designed with dignity and respect at their core?

Scottish social security system ensure all social security communications are designed with dignity and respect at their core
Written in plain English so as to be readily understandable without being condescending; readily available in other languages/large print/audio format if preferred by the user; access to oral advice in social security office or from call centre without undue delay; avoidance of stigmatising language.

With whom should the Scottish Government consult, in order to ensure that the use of language for social security in Scotland is accessible and appropriate?

With whom should the Scottish Government consult, in order to ensure that the use of language for social security in Scotland is accessible and appropriate?
Plain English Campaign; learning disability advocacy groups; minority linguistic group representative groups; organisations representative of or working closely with key social security user groups.

Are there any particular words or phrases that should not be used when delivering social security in Scotland?

Please select one item
Ticked Yes
No
If yes, please state which words or phrases should not be used.
Welfare; dependence; scrounger; skiver Exercise caution when referring to ‘workers’ and especially value-laden terms like ‘hard-working’ which have potential to cast claimants in a negative light in comparison.

What else could be done to enhance the user experience:

When people first get in touch?
Rapid, clear and correct response to initial query; a consistent point of contact throughout processing of initial claim; referral to independent advice if there are any complex issues; sensitive demeanour on the part of staff, their conduct reflecting the principles.
When they are in the process of applying for a benefit?
Reminders about any deadlines.
When a decision is made (for example, about whether they receive a benefit)?
Clear, prompt, reasoned communication with signposting to advice on lodging an appeal if applicable.
When they are in receipt of a benefit?
When in receipt of benefit – clear communication of any impending changes or when anything is expected/required of the claimant; occasional check-ins to see how claimants of income replacement benefits are coping and referral to advice services if they are not; prepare now for future devolution of conditionality with a view to developing a more humane regime.

How should the Scottish social security system communicate with service users (For example, text messaging or social media)?

Scottish social security system communicate with service users
Depends on context. Social media very good for raising awareness and potentially increasing uptake, SMS useful for guidance during the claim process, reminder of signing-on dates, adviser/Work Programme appointments etc. But it would seem appropriate that certain communications are by letter (or email if claimant/applicant is agreeable). If failure to respond to a communication has potential to result in a sanction it should be followed up by telephone or SMS.

What are your views on how the Scottish Government can ensure that a Scottish social security system is designed with users using a co-production and co-design approach?

co-production and co-design approach
Individual users undoubtedly have an input to make, but the ability of advice sector and other expert groups (CPAG, academic researchers) to identify the most common or most difficult problems should also be borne in mind.

We are considering whether or not to adopt the name, "User Panels". Can you think of another name that would better suit the groups of existing social security claimants which we will set up? If so, what other name would you choose?

We are considering whether or not to adopt the name, "User Panels".
Content with ‘user panels’

Delivering social security in Scotland

Should the social security agency administer all social security benefits in Scotland?

Please select one item
Ticked Yes
No
Please explain your answer.
This would smooth the interaction of the reserved and devolved systems, especially if the top-up power is used in the future, and pave the way for a smooth transition in the event that further policy competences are devolved in future.

Should the social security agency in Scotland be responsible for providing benefits in cash only or offer a choice of goods and cash?

Please explain your answer.
‘Yes’ or ‘no’ is not an appropriate answer to this question. Cash respects user autonomy and helps build financial management skills, and is therefore preferable. If a claimant is incapable of managing his/her finances an appointed person can assist. Goods are generally more appropriate to emergency assistance through the Scottish Welfare Fund than ongoing income replacement, although there may also be advantages to using a disability benefit award to pay directly for adaptations or services (as with Motability), especially if favourable rates can be accessed.

How best can we harness digital services for social security in Scotland?

How best can we harness digital services for social security in Scotland?
Preference for online application and management of claims is in keeping with principle 5 and should continue to be pursued, with regard for claimants without internet access or digital literacy. Access points and basic IT courses could be provided in jobcentres and other public spaces (libraries/local government offices). SMS reminders of appointments and deadlines. Social media campaigns to increase uptake. Consider payment of benefits to a pre-loadable debit card (if claimant wishes) to avoid current income being eaten up by bank charges etc.

Should social security in Scotland make some provision for face to face contact?

Please select one item
Ticked Yes
No
Please explain your answer.
People like face-to-face contact, especially if they have a complex issue, communication/hearing problems or poor digital literacy. Over time it may be that increased digitisation reduces the need for walk-in frontline offices, but it seems unlikely that these can be abolished altogether for the foreseeable future.

Who should deliver social security assessments for disability related benefits?

Who should deliver social security assessments for disability related benefits?
Public sector – NHS, social services or a dedicated team within the new social security agency. Trust in private contractors is justifiably low and profitmaking from social security is not in keeping with principle 5.

Should we, as much as possible, aim to deliver social security through already available public sector services and organisations?

Please select one item
Yes
Ticked No
Please explain your answer.
Better to establish a new social security agency with responsibility for coordination of all social security services. Existing public sector organisations can play a role eg continued local government responsibility for Scottish Welfare Fund, NHS trusts in carrying out assessments, local government assistance with digital literacy and online applications, but there should be a single organisation with oversight and core decision making/payment functions.

Should any aspect of social security be delivered by others such as the 3rd sector, not for profit organisations, social enterprises or the private sector?

If yes, which aspects?
Need not be ruled out entirely, but if social security is to be treated as a core right of citizenship it is preferable that the state should be primarily responsible for delivery. Scotland has been relatively resistant to private/third sector delivery of health services and there seems little reason to treat social security differently. The potential of the profit motive to create perverse, counterproductive incentives is well documented (see Brodkyn & Marston’s book on workfare programmes/Rees, Whitworth and Carter on the UK Work Programme). Reliance on the third sector has potential to create an unhelpful perception of social security as charity rather than a right of citizenship. However good the policy intentions, there will inevitably be gaps, whether for non-citizens, those who fall foul of the conditionality regime, who experience delay or error in their claim or fail to claim benefits to which they are entitled, and it is here that the voluntary sector can add most value as an emergency welfare provider of last resort, with a further-reaching role for the advice sector.

Equality and low income

How can the Scottish Government improve its partial EqIA as to produce a full EqIA to support the Bill?

How can the Scottish Government improve its partial EqIA as to produce a full EqIA to support the Bill?
Policymakers need not look far for information on the inequalities inherent in the current UK system; these are laid bare in R (SG) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions [2015] (the judicial review of the household benefit cap). Models for equality impact assessment already exist under the Equality Act 2010 and s75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998. Although s1 of the Equality Act was not implemented due to the change of UK government in 2010, following the amendment to the devolution legislation made by s37 of the Scotland Act 2006 there appears to be nothing to stop the Scottish Parliament supplementing the Equality Act’s provisions by putting in place its own socio-economic duty. Application of a test of this nature to social security policy proposals and to the functioning of a Scottish social security agency would be consistent with the identified short, medium and long term outcomes for Scottish benefits. The proposed user panels, comparison of benefit levels to median income, the advice sector and organisations representative of user groups might all be expected to have a contribution to make to the assessment process. In establishing the appropriate level of benefits (including potential use of the top-up power), reference should be made to the proposed Child Poverty (Scotland) Bill and European Social Charter. The UK is a party to the latter, but the level of many income replacement benefits is below the minimum acceptable level as indicated by the European Committee on Social Rights. Reference might also be made to empirical indicators of typical living costs, such as the JRF’s Minimum Income Standard and housing costs. Independent scrutiny (see section 5 below) will help ensure the visions, principles and equality objectives are realised. Consideration must be given to the relative importance of socio-economic equality within Scotland and equal treatment of social security claimants across the UK.

Independent advice and scrutiny

Do you think that there is a need for an independent body to be set up to scrutinise Scottish social security arrangements?

Please select one item
Ticked Yes
No
Please explain your answer.
Expert, independent scrutiny breeds confidence, accountability and better policy decisions. Such a body can add value by taking a longer view than Parliamentary committees whose members’ outlooks are inevitably shaped to an extent by the electoral cycle and immediate pressures of public/media opinion. The value of the Social Security Advisory Committee’s contribution has been recognised in successive reviews of its role (see the 2015 Triennial Review for DWP). The need for independent scrutiny is arguably greater than ever at times of radical change, and the partial devolution of social security can be legitimately described as radical change.

If you agree, does the body need to be established in law or would administrative establishment by the Scottish Government of the day be sufficient?

Please explain your answer.
Yes/no is not an appropriate choice of responses to this question. Establishment in law would be preferable but perhaps not essential, as long as there is genuine respect for the role and independence of any agency established.

If yes, what practical arrangements should be made for the independent body (for example, the law could state how appointments to it are made and the length of time an individual may serve as a member of the body)?

what practical arrangements should be made for the independent body
The Social Security Advisory Committee perhaps provides a model that could be imitated.

Should there be a statutory body to oversee Scottish social security decision making standards?

Please select one item
Ticked Yes
No
Please explain your answer.
This will be crucial if discretion and a constantly evolving body of decision maker guidance play as great a rule in the devolved system as they have come to play in the UK system. Brodkin’s work reveals that welfare state reform projects can be as readily advanced through the decision making process as through legislation, raising questions about accountability and the rule of law in the absence of effective oversight. More generally, correct, consistent decision making is essential if principles 2 and 4 are to be realised.

If yes, should the be a separate body in its own right?

Please select one item
Yes
Ticked No
Please explain your answer.
There is no reason why this function could not be taken on by a new Scottish social security scrutiny body, but equally no reason why the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman should not perform the role.

Do you have any other views about the independent scrutiny of social security arrangement in Scotland (e.g. alternative approaches)?

about the independent scrutiny of social security arrangement in Scotland
It is unfortunate that the UK government did not see fit to extend the remit of the Social Security Advisory Committee to cover devolved social security functions in Scotland, a role it already plays in Northern Ireland. Such an approach would have (1) allowed Scotland to benefit from an existing body with established practices, expertise and reputation and (2) enabled holistic oversight of gradually fragmenting UK social security provision in a way that will be harder (although not impossible) to achieve if a separate Scottish scrutiny body is set up. (See Lord Kirkwood, House of Lords, 22 Feb 2016.) The AJTC, referred to in the consultation document, included Scottish and Welsh sub-committees and there appears to be no real reason why the SSAC could not similarly have established a Scottish sub-committee. If there is to be a Scottish Scrutiny body in addition to the SSAC, this will create challenges as the SSAC would remain responsible for scrutiny of the functioning of the reserved system in Scotland, the new body for the devolved system. The major problem is that the distinction may not be clear-cut. Where power is devolved, the Scottish Parliament may not choose to differentiate Scottish policy from UK government policy – so PIP (for example) could operate identically in Scotland and England. Conversely, if the top-up power were to be used, a nominally reserved benefit like jobseeker’s allowance could from the claimant’s perspective operate quite differently. Universal credit, with its blend of reserved elements, devolved elements and potential top-ups, has potential to create serious confusion if there are two separate scrutiny bodies, and similar issues would arise if the UK Parliament were to legislate on a devolved area of social security policy with the consent of the Scottish Parliament (under the Sewel Convention).

Disability Benefits

Please explain your views (both positive and negative) on disability living allowance.

Please explain your views (both positive and negative) on disability living allowance.
Positive: Recognition that disability brings extra costs. Negative: Reported problems with assessment process; perhaps a somewhat blunt instrument in that the limited number of levels of award do not necessarily accurately reflect the actual extra costs that an individual claimant has.

Please explain your views (both positive and negative) on personal independence payment.

Please explain your views (both positive and negative) on personal independence payment.
Negative: Widespread suspicion that major motivation for introduction is to reduce eligibility (see Neville Harris); with fewer levels of award it is even more of a blunt instrument than DLA.

Please explain your views (both positive and negative) on attendance allowance.

Please explain your views (both positive and negative) on personal independence payment.
Negative: Lack of mobility element – assumption that older people cannot expect to be mobile.

Is there any particular change that could be made to these disability benefits that would significantly improve equality?

Please select one item
Ticked Yes
No
Please explain your answer.
Apparent issues with responsiveness of assessments to mental health conditions; improved responsiveness of benefit levels to actual additional needs of claimants; how frontline services are delivered, so that claimants do not feel under suspicion when called for (re)assessment and are not forced to undergo relatively futile reassessments when there is little prospect that their condition will have changed.

How should the new Scottish social security system operate in terms of a person applying for a disability related benefit?

Please explain your answer.
I am not an expert in disability benefits. However, many of the same principles regarding communication with and treatment of claimants will apply. Consultation should take place with disability claimant benefits themselves to establish preference for cash benefit only/continuation of Motability/option of direct payment for other services or adaptations, in keeping with principles 3 and 4. The option of appeal to a tribunal must be retained even if administrative reconsideration in practice provides a resolution in many cases.

We want to make sure that the process is clear and accessible from start to finish, and that people claiming devolved benefits understand how and when their claim will be dealt with. With this in mind, do you think that timescales should be set for applications, assessments and decision-making?

Please select one item
Ticked Yes
No
Please explain your answer.
Guideline or target times would be useful to applicants and give decision makers/the social security agency an incentive to avoid undue delay. It is recognised that there will always be potential for complex needs or a particularly busy period to result in delay, but such delays should be communicated to the applicant.

What evidence and information, if any, should be required to support an application for a Scottish benefit?

what evidence and information, if any, should be required to support an application for a Scottish benefit
In the case of disability benefits, it is likely that similar information will be required as is currently required for UK benefits.

Who should be responsible for requesting this information and who should be responsible for providing it?

Please explain why.
The social security agency should have a responsibility to ensure clarity in the information it needs from claimants. Responsibility for provision will arguably depend on the sort of information needed and should take account of the claimant’s preferences. If the claimant consents to information sharing, public bodies should be responsible for providing information they hold, so that (for example) the claimant does not incur any additional fees for supply of doctor’s records. Other information may only be known by the claimant, his/her carer or a private healthcare provider. In such cases the claimant or appointed person must retain responsibility, but should have clear guidance from the social security agency regarding what is required.

Should the individual be asked to give their consent (Note: consent must be freely given, specific and informed) to allow access to their personal information, including medical records, in the interests of simplifying and speeding up the application process and/or reducing the need for appeals due to lack of evidence?

Please select one item
Ticked Yes
No

If the individual has given their permission, should a Scottish social security agency be able to request information on their behalf?

Please select one item
Ticked Yes
No
If no, please explain why.
The individual should be made aware of what kind of information they are giving the agency the right to request.

Do you think that the impact of a person’s impairment or disability is the best way to determine entitlement to the benefits?

Please select one item
Ticked Yes
No
If yes, which aspects of an individual’s life should the criteria cover and why?
Consideration should be given to: mobility, care needs, special dietary needs, environmental needs (eg home adaptations or extra energy costs due to heating requirements), other matters identified through consultation with user panels and disability sector organisations.

Currently there are only special rules for the terminally ill but should there be others?

Currently there are only special rules for the terminally ill but should there be others?
At the very least, consideration should be given to special rules for some other groups. As the consultation document makes clear, this would be a complex process requiring (medical) expert input. Most conditions can have a wide range of impacts on different people and will need to be assessed on a case-by-case basis. However, if a particular condition has a very predictable, severe and long term impact, there seems no reason why automatic eligibility to support should not be available.

What do you think are the advantages and disadvantages of automatic entitlement?

What do you think are the advantages and disadvantages of automatic entitlement?
Advantages – administrative convenience and efficiency, reduced stress and inconvenience for claimant, reduced burden on other agencies that would have to supply information for an assessment. Disadvantages – problems could result if there are rare cases of an individual finding a particular condition considerably more or less disabling than average. There should always be the option of a claimant requesting an assessment if he/she believes his/her activities are impaired to a greater extent than the automatic eligibility rules assume and that he/she might therefore be entitled to a higher payment.

Would applicants be content for their medical or other publicly-held records, for example prescribing and medicines information or information held by HMRC, to be accessed to support automatic entitlement where a legal basis existed to do this?

Would applicants be content for their medical or other publicly-held records, for example prescribing and medicines information or information held by HMRC, to be accessed to support automatic entitlement where a legal basis existed to do this
Permission for this should be sought from individual claimants.

Do you agree that the current UK-wide PIP and AA process for supporting people with terminal illnesses is responsive and appropriate?

If no, how could the approach could be improved? If no, how could the approach could be improved?
There seems no objective reason for practice to differ between disability benefits. However, special provision for people with terminal illnesses should not result in reduced focus on the need for swift, accurate, sensitive decision making for all claimants.

Should there be additional flexibility, for example, an up-front lump sum?

Please explain your reasons.
Unsure. This might be useful to a claimant seeking to pay for a funeral, but disability benefits are supposed to be for additional living costs. If a large one-off investment in a particular piece of equipment or adaptation would have long term benefits for the claimant this sort of option might merit consideration, and not solely for claimants with a terminal illness.

In the longer term, do you think that the Scottish Government should explore the potential for a consistent approach to eligibility across all ages, with interventions to meet specific needs at certain life stages or situations?

Please explain why.
There will always be compromises to be made between responsiveness to individual need and administrative efficiency. If it is fairly predictable that many claimants’ needs will change in a particular way at particular points in time, automatic interventions may have merit, but this would need to be fully explored with medical and disability experts, and the preferences of disabled people sought in line with principles 3 and 4.

What would the advantages and disadvantages of a single, whole-of-life benefit be?

Please explain your answer.
Advantage of avoidance of confusion and familiarity with processes. No particular disadvantages besides the administrative challenge of introducing a major new benefit (exposed by the teething troubles around universal credit), but there would need to be assurances that operation of a single benefit would not reduce responsiveness to individual circumstances.

Could the current assessment processes for disability benefits be improved?

Please select one item
Ticked Yes
No
Please explain how.
There are widespread criticisms of current assessment practice, notably how it takes account of mental health conditions and mental disabilities (Nick Wikeley), its responsiveness to fluctuating conditions, how qualified assessors are to give the required advice and how well private contractors perform their role (parts of Grainne McKeever and Ruth Tindley’s work on employment and support allowance are potentially applicable to DLA). Beyond the mechanics of the assessment, there is a need to have an eye to its interpersonal aspects, ensuring that claimants do not feel they are being treated with suspicion.

For those people that may require a face-to-face assessment, who do you think should deliver the assessments and how? For example, private organisation, not-for-profit organisation, public sector body or professional from health or social care.

people that may require a face-to-face assessment, who do you think should deliver the assessments and how
A health or social care professional, preferably within the public sector.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of different types of assessments e.g. paper based, face to face, telephone?

What are the advantages and disadvantages of different types of assessments e.g. paper based, face to face, telephone?
Avoiding in-person assessments would have advantages in terms of efficiency and inconvenience to the claimant, but is always likely to be required in some cases. The success of paper based assessment is highly dependent on (1) the claimant accurately completing the paperwork (with any necessary support) and (2) documentary evidence from other sources – which will not have been compiled with the primary purpose of supporting a DLA or PIP application – containing all necessary information. If the claimant is present, gaps can be filled in through conversation and any physical assessment that takes place in a way that is not possible with paper-based applications. Research findings on the advantages to claimants of appearing in person before a tribunal instead of completing a paper-based appeal may be relevant here (Genn & Thomas).

How could the existing assessment process be improved?

How could the existing assessment process be improved?
Engage with researchers in the field, advice sector, user panels and disability organisations when deciding on changes.

Could technology support the assessment process to promote accessibility, communication and convenience?

Please explain why. If yes, please explain what technology would be helpful e.g. Skype, video conferencing.
Skype or other video conferencing software would enable oral communication with the assessor without the inconvenience of attending a centre, but would be unlikely to be appropriate if a physical assessment was deemed necessary. If there is a desire for this to occur without a visit to an assessment centre, claimants’ own GPs or social care providers could be an alternative means of carrying out the assessment (at no cost to the claimant).

If the individual’s condition or circumstances are unlikely to change, should they have to be re-assessed?

Please select one item
Yes
Ticked No
Please explain why.
There is a strong argument based on principles 2, 4 and 5 for the avoidance of unnecessary reassessment, or at least extended gaps between reassessment.

What evidence do you think would be required to determine that a person's condition is not likely to change?

evidence do you think would be required to determine that a person's condition is not likely to change
Opinion of the claimant’s consultant that this individual’s condition and related impairment is unlikely to change significantly in the foreseeable future, and/or expert evidence that this condition and its related impairments typically do not change significantly over an extended period.

Who should provide that evidence?

Who should provide that evidence
A range of options, but the claimant’s consultant, GP or a medical professional/researcher with expertise on the relevant condition would be examples.

Do you think people should be offered the choice of spending some of their benefit for alternative support, such as reduced energy tariffs or adaptations to their homes?

Please explain why.
Potentially – a question for consultation with disability sector and user panels
What alternative support do you think we should be considering?
Home adaptations, support with energy costs, payment of transport costs (including but not limited to Motability), support worker, others as suggested by consultees.

Would a one-off, lump sum payment be more appropriate than regular payments in some situations?

Please select one item
Ticked Yes
No
Please explain why. If yes, what are they?
Potentially, if a major adaptation or expensive piece of equipment would have a lasting impact on the claimant’s quality of life.

What would be the advantages and disadvantages of such an approach?

What would be the advantages and disadvantages of such an approach?
As long as such payments were at the discretion of the claimant or his/her appointed person (maintaining autonomy), it is difficult to foresee particular disadvantages and there is the potential for quality of life to be improved in ways that might be unaffordable with monthly payments.

Should the new Scottish social security system continue to include the use of mobility allowance to lease cars, wheelchairs or scooters?

Please select one item
Ticked Yes
No
Please explain why.
Yes, this helps people remain mobile which helps both their employment prospects and wellbeing, but consideration might be given to covering alternative transport costs (such as monthly/annual public transport tickets, subscription to community transport services or a regular taxi account) for claimants who cannot or do not want to use a private car.

How could the new Scottish social security system support older people with mobility problems not eligible for a mobility allowance?

new Scottish social security system support older people with mobility problems not eligible for a mobility allowance
Remove or raise age restriction on mobility allowance; improve community transport services or provide taxi accounts for people whose age qualifies them for free public transport but who are unable to avail of the service.

How could the new Scottish social security system better support people of all ages with mobility problems who are in receipt of a mobility allowance?

How could the new Scottish social security system better support people of all ages with mobility problems who are in receipt of a mobility allowance?
Ensure good public transport coverage with accessible vehicles.

What kind of additional support should be available for people who need more help with their application and during assessment?

additional support should be available for people who need more help with their application and during assessment
Adequate funding for advice sector so that independent support can be accessed.

How could disability benefits work more effectively with other services at national and local level assuming that legislation allows for this e.g. with health and social care, professionals supporting families with a disabled child.

disability benefits work more effectively with other services at national and local level
If a new Scottish disability benefit were to be designed from scratch, a decision would have to be made on the correct balance of investment between cash benefits paid to individuals and public services free at the point of delivery to disabled people. Under the current system, if information sharing were to be more extensively used in support of benefit applications, information gathered through (for example) the PIP application and assessment process might equally be shared with other service providers to ensure all available support was being provided.
What are the risks?
Loss of autonomy if this meant reduction of benefit; problems of uptake and efficiency if investment shifted towards benefit rather than services.

Are there situations where a one off lump sum payment would be more appropriate than a regular weekly IIDB benefit payment?

What are they, and why? What would be the advantages and disadvantages of such an approach?
Probably, in similar circumstances to those in which a lump sum might be beneficial to a DLA or PIP claimant.

Should the Scottish Government seek to work with the UK Government to reform the IIDB scheme?

Please select one item
Ticked Yes
No

Do you agree with the Scottish Governments approach to Severe Disablement Allowance?

Please select one item
Ticked Yes
No

Carer's Allowance

Do you agree with the Scottish Governments approach to developing a Scottish carers benefit?

Please explain why.
I agree strongly that the level of carer’s allowance should be at least equivalent to jobseeker’s allowance. There is no justification for a carer receiving less, and possible justification for the carer to receive more if the allowance is likely to remain his/her main source of income for an extended period (whereas most JSA claimants only receive the benefit for a short time while between jobs). However, there are risks associated with the proposal for a young carer’s allowance in that the availability of financial support for caring, particularly if there is a ‘minimum hours’ requirement for eligibility, might incentivise neglect of education – which would be at odds with the consultation’s statement that being a carer should not be a barrier to education or personal development. It might be better to focus investment on expanded provision of respite care and other support services, without ruling out some form of payment to enable the young carer to enjoy some ‘normal’ childhood experiences that might be inaccessible if the person being cared for would otherwise be expected to be the main earner in the household.

Do you agree with our proposed short to medium term priorities for developing a Scottish carer's benefit?

Please explain why.
Yes, subject to stated reservations about proposal for a young carer’s allowance.

Should the Scottish Government offer the choice of exchanging some (or all) of a cash benefit for alternative support (e.g. reduced energy tariffs)?

Please explain why.
Potentially if carers would see this as beneficial, but it is harder to see a clear argument in favour of such a measure as in the case of disability benefits.

How can we improve the support given to young people with significant caring responsibilities - beyond what is currently available?

How can we improve the support given to young people with significant caring responsibilities - beyond what is currently available?
Expanded respite care or access to distance learning/part time study to ensure impact on education and opportunities for social participation is minimised.

Do you agree with our proposed long term plans for developing a Scottish Carer’s Benefit?

Please select one item
Ticked Yes
No

Do you have any other comments about the Scottish Governments proposals for a Scottish Carer’s Benefit?

any other comments about the Scottish Governments proposals for a Scottish carers benefit
The long term proposal states that “It is unfair that Carer‟s Allowance is only received for one person even if you are caring for more people,” but if a variable level of benefit is being proposed it might be fairer for this to be on the basis of hours spent caring rather than the number of people cared for.

Winter Fuel and Cold Weather Payments

Do you have any comments about the Scottish Governments proposals for Winter Fuel and Cold Weather Payments?

other commments
Proposal to extend eligibility to higher rate DLA claimants and to make early payments to households off the gas grid are positive. However, while the case for extra payments in the event of spells of exceptional cold weather will remain clear, over time there may be a case for refocusing expenditure on winter fuel payments on improvements in insulation and conversion to more efficient heating options, while retaining a residual WFP system for households at particular risk of fuel poverty.

Funeral Payments

Which of these elements do you think should be included in a low cost/simple funeral and paid for by the funeral payment?

Professional funeral director fees – advice and administration etc.
Please select one item
Ticked Yes No
Removal or collection of the deceased
Please select one item
Ticked Yes No
Care and storage of the deceased before the funeral
Please select one item
Ticked Yes No
Coffin
Please select one item
Ticked Yes No
Hearse or transport of the deceased
Please select one item
Ticked Yes No
Limousines or other car(s) for the family
Please select one item
Yes Ticked No
Flowers
Please select one item
Yes Ticked No
Death notice in a paper/local advertising to announce details of funeral (time and location)Death notice in a paper/local advertising to announce details of funeral (time and location)
Please select one item
Ticked Yes No
Fees associated with the ceremony e.g. for the minister or other celebrant
Please select one item
Ticked Yes No
Order of service sheets
Please select one item
Yes Ticked No
Catering for wake/funeral reception
Please select one item
Ticked Yes No
Venue hire for a wake/funeral reception
Please select one item
Yes Ticked No
Memorial headstone or plaque
Please select one item
Ticked Yes No
Travel expenses to arrange or attend the funeral
Please select one item
Ticked Yes No

Are there other elements that you think should be included or explicitly excluded?

Please explain why.
Some elements might be capped (eg coffin, catering) or only covered to the extent necessary (eg it is essential to transport the deceased from the place of death to the funeral home to the cemetery/crematorium, but not necessarily to/from a religious building or the deceased’s home in addition to these). Unsure whether a headstone should be covered, but a plaque would not be unreasonable. Childcare might be included.

In terms of the Scottish Funeral Payment, are there any qualifying benefits (e.g. Pension Credit) that you would add to or take away from the current qualifying benefit list?

Please select one item
Ticked Yes
No
Please explain your answer
Consider adding carer’s allowance. Consider making support available to people in receipt of working tax credit or of no benefits on a means tested basis.

Is the three month application window for a Funeral Payment sufficient time for claimants to apply?

If no, please explain your answer and suggest an alternative length of time in which a claim could be made.
Reasonable as long as awareness is sufficient. Publicity could be arranged through funeral directors and registrars.

What are your views on the options for speeding up and simplifying the payment?

iews on the options for speeding up the grant
Payment of a fixed amount plus burial or cremation costs would be simple and efficient, but could be problematic if there were higher than average transport costs or a particularly large number of mourners to cater for. An alternative might be to make payment directly to the funeral director, up to a fixed limit.

The other funds which are deducted from the DWP funeral payment are listed below. What sorts of funds do you think it is appropriate to deduct from a Scottish FP?

Funds in the deceased’s bank account
Please select one item
Ticked Yes No
Funeral plan/insurance policy
Please select one item
Ticked Yes No
Contributions from charities or employers
Please select one item
Ticked Yes No
Money from an occupational pension scheme
Please select one item
Ticked Yes No
Money from a burial club
Please select one item
Ticked Yes No

Are there other funds that you think are appropriate to deduct?

Are there other funds that you think are appropriate to deduct?
Contributions from other relatives (potentially).

Which services should promote awareness of the funeral payment to ensure that claimants know about it at the relevant time?

ervices should promote awareness of the funeral payment to ensure that claimants know about it at the relevant time
Registrars, funeral directors, hospitals, hospices, social care providers

Best Start Grant

What are your views on who should receive the Best Start Grant?

What are your views on who should receive the Best Start Grant?
Free early learning/free school meals approach appears reasonable; consideration might be given to making a reduced payment to parents whose income is higher than this threshold but who are entitled to a tax credit or universal credit. Reassessment should be possible at each stage of life when a payment becomes due to eligible households, so that a family that does not qualify at birth but whose income subsequently drops is eligible for a payment on entry to nursery or school.

Should we continue to use the same system to determine who is responsible for a child for the purposes of the BSG application?

Please select one item
Ticked Yes
No

Do you agree that each of the three BSG payments should only be made once for each child?

If no, what exceptions would you make to this rule?
Some school-related costs are recurring (eg uniforms as the child grows, stationery) so it may be appropriate to make a further, smaller payment at a later stage if funds allow, or to consider other means of supporting essential school-related expenditure.

What are your views on defining ‘the start of nursery’ as the point of entitlement to a funded early learning and childcare place, for the purposes of making the second payment?

What are your views on defining ‘the start of nursery’ as the point of entitlement to a funded early learning and childcare place, for the purposes of making the second payment?
Since pre-school education is non-compulsory, it may be appropriate to identify an alternative marker for those children who do not participate.

Are there any particular issues related to the school payment that you think we should consider?

Are there any particular issues related to the nursery payment that you think we should consider?
There are other means of controlling the costs of school that could be considered alongside the grant, such as limits on the cost of uniforms, a ban on using a single, prescribed supplier of uniforms, limits on what things a school may charge for and on how much it can charge.

Which services should promote awareness of the BSG to ensure that claimants know about it at the relevant time?

We know that there is a patchy awareness of the SSMG and that take up is low. It is important that people are able to access and receive the support that they are entitled to. We think that we can improve take up of the BSG by ensuring that it is promoted by services commonly used by people who will need support, for example the family nurse partnership and health visitors. We also think that the new baby box which will be available for all new mothers will be a good opportunity to raise awareness of the BSG.
Hospitals, health centres, health visitors, ante- and neonatal services, schools and preschools, social security offices, social services

Discretionary Housing Payment

Could the way that DHPs are currently used be improved?

Please explain why.
Continuation with DHPs exactly as they function at present does not reflect commitments that were given to disapply the social sector size criteria outright in Scotland. This might not make any difference to the income received by the vast majority of claimants, but by removing a hurdle between the claimant and compensation it reduces stress, administrative burden and the risk of falling through the gaps. Now that the necessary competence has been devolved, DHPs should be kept for emergencies and not used as “panacean payments” (Jed Meers) to correct ‘bad’ policy decisions.

Job Grant

What should the Scottish Government consider in developing the Job Grant?

What should the Scottish Government consider in developing the Job Grant?
Typical costs associated with entry to employment, particularly clothing, transport and childcare.

Universal Credit flexibilities

Should the choice of managed payments of rent be extended to private sector landlords in the future?

Please select one item
Ticked Yes
No

Should payments of Universal Credit be split between members of a household?

Please select one item
Ticked Yes
No
Please explain why.
Payment to the ‘lead applicant’ in practice often means payment to the male partner, whereas household- and in particular child-related expenditure is often by the female partner.

If Yes, please indicate if you think the default position should be:

Please select one item
automatic payments to individuals, with the option to choose a joint payment
Ticked automatic household payments, with the option to choose individual payments

If Yes, how do you think payments should be split? For example 50/50 between members of a couple or weighted towards the person who is the main carer if the claim includes dependent children?

If Yes, how do you think payments should be split? For example 50/50 between members of a couple or weighted towards the person who is the main carer if the claim includes dependent children?
50/50 split of basic allowance; option of housing element being paid directly to landlord; child-related elements paid to or weighted toward main carer.

Do you have any other comments about how the Scottish Government’s powers over Universal Credit administrative flexibilities will be delivered?

other comments about how the Scottish Government’s powers over Universal Credit administrative flexibilities will be delivered
Payment arrangements for UC in Northern Ireland will differ from those in England and Wales, it may be instructive to watch developments there. Both NI and Scotland may be able to learn from each other.

Universal Credit housing element

Do you have any comments about the Scottish Government's powers over the housing element of Universal Credit?

Do you have any comments about the Scottish Government's powers over the housing element of Universal Credit?
For private tenants the reduced level of the LHA is often the major barrier to housing affordability and housing associations in Northern Ireland have expressed concern that extension of the LHA to the social sector will have an even greater impact on their finances than the social sector size criteria. While it is understandable that the SSSC will be the first priority for the Scottish Government, given the political importance this issue has taken on, as a next step it should turn its attention to the LHA.

Advice, representation and advocacy

What role[s] should publicly funded advice providers to play in the development of a new Scottish social security system?

What role[s] should publicly funded advice providers to play in the development of a new Scottish social security system?
All three types of advice will remain very important, especially in the confusion that will result initially from the transition to universal credit and thereafter in the introduction of any dedicated Scottish benefits.

What steps need to be taken, to understand the likely impact of the transfer of the devolved benefits on publicly funded advice in Scotland?

What steps need to be taken, to understand the likely impact of the transfer of the devolved benefits on publicly funded advice in Scotland?
Impact is likely to depend on what substantive policy changes flow from devolution. Devolution of a function is unlikely to alter demand for advice services if Scottish provision does not diverge significantly from English and Welsh provision.

How could the transfer of the devolved benefits to Scotland be used to drive improvements in the provision of publicly funded advice?

How could the transfer of the devolved benefits to Scotland be used to drive improvements in the provision of publicly funded advice?
The opportunity for a review of how well the current system serves Scotland also provides an opportunity for a review of how well advice services are fulfilling their function.

Do you think that Independent Advocacy services should be available to help people successfully claim appropriate benefits?

Please select one item
Ticked Yes
No

What next steps would you recommend that would help the Scottish Government better understand the likely impact of the transfer of the devolved benefits on independent advocacy services?

What next steps would you recommend that would help the Scottish Government better understand the likely impact of the transfer of the devolved benefits on independent advocacy services?
Again, the impact of devolution will depend to a great extent on whether substantive policy changes result, although a transition to a Scottish social security agency could in itself affect how claimants and their advocates interact with the system, regardless of the development of policy.

Complaints, reviews and appeals

Do you agree that we should base our CHP on the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman’s ‘Statement of Complaints Handling Principles’?

Please select one item
Ticked Yes
No

Should a tribunal be used as the forum for dispute resolution for the Scottish social security system?

Please select one item
Ticked Yes
No

How can we ensure that our values underpin the appeals process for a Scottish Social Security agency?

How can we ensure that our values underpin the appeals process for a Scottish Social Security agency?
Strong emphasis on ‘right first time’ – so advisers and decision makers must be able and encouraged to learn from their mistakes in a blame-free manner. This will require two-way communication between the agency and tribunals so that decision makers understand why their decisions are appealed, why appeals succeed and how they can get it right next time.

Are there any other values that you feel should be reflected in the design of the appeals process?

Are there any other values that you feel should be reflected in the design of the appeals process?
Genn & Thomas and McKeever find tribunal users like to have expert support and receive concrete benefits from expert representation in terms of outcomes, as well as from appearance in person before the tribunal. In establishing a Scottish tribunal system, caution should be exercised before replicating DWP’s drive towards paper based hearings and self-representation.

What do you consider would be reasonable timescales to hear an appeal in relation a decision on a devolved benefit?

What do you consider would be reasonable timescales to hear an appeal in relation a decision on a devolved benefit
A reasonably speedy appeal is important, but depending on the complexity of the appeal it may not be wise to set time limits and it is arguably even more important to ensure the system is seen to be fair and accessible to appellants.

How could the existing appeals process be improved?

How could the existing appeals process be improved?
Guaranteed access to advice, expert representation and a hearing in person if this is what the appellant desires, or a consistent basis for determining the kind of case in which this ought to be guaranteed.

Residency and cross-border issues

Should Scottish benefits should only be payable to individuals who are resident in Scotland?

Please select one item
Yes
Ticked No
Please explain why
Where appropriate, EEA rules on the portability of benefits should be complied with.

What are your views on the ‘habitual’ residence test currently used in the UK by DWP?

views on the habitual residence test currently used in the UK by DWP
Since unemployment benefits are not devolved, the question of the person’s employment prospects is arguably irrelevant to habitual residence for the purposes of Scottish benefits. Given that carer’s benefits are devolved it might, on the other hand, be appropriate to inquire about the habitual residence of the person cared for. Other elements of the test are probably reasonable, and could be supplemented with ‘reasons for coming to Scotland’.

What other factors should Scottish Government consider in seeking to coordinate its social security system with other social security systems in the UK?

What other factors should Scottish Government consider in seeking to coordinate its social security system with other social security systems in the UK?
The Expert Working Group indicated that an independent Scotland might aspire to operate a fundamentally different approach to social security compared to the rest of the UK. Although devolved competence is in practice limited, if the philosophy of the Scottish Government in relation to a particular benefit differs fundamentally to that of the UK government, it would be remiss of it to prioritise coordination over best serving citizens in Scotland. Nonetheless, if the user is to be put first in line with principle 4, where possible attempts should be made to minimise the strain placed on people who move between Scotland and other parts of the UK while claiming a benefit or having an application processed. DWP clearly has a role to play here. If it is possible for a single application process to gather all the information that would be required for a decision on a Scottish benefit and its DWP and Northern Irish equivalents, notwithstanding the fact that the eligibility criteria, ultimate decision and rate of payment might differ, the various agencies should work together to produce the necessary forms, assessments etc. Where a benefit offered in one part of the UK simply does not exist in another, or is radically different, this will not be possible. This would not be unique to the UK and there is an opportunity to learn from the management of regional variation in provision in (for example) the Spanish social assistance system and some aspects of the Belgian social security system.

How can the Scottish Government ensure that no-one either falls through the cracks or is able to make a 'double-claim'?

How can the Scottish Government ensure that no-one either falls through the cracks or is able to make a 'double-claim'
Good communication with DWP and NISSA will be crucial. If social security claims continue to be linked to a UK national insurance number, it should be possible to prevent double claims. ‘Falling through the cracks’ may be a more challenging problem, but with goodwill it might be possible to come to an arrangement whereby if an unsuccessful claim is lodged with one social security agency, but that agency believes the applicant might be entitled to a benefit in another part of the UK, a referral is made to the relevant agency or to advice services. Resourcing of advice services within Scotland also has an important role to play in limiting the number of futile applications.

Managing overpayments and debt

Could the existing arrangements for recovering social security overpayments be improved in the new Scottish social security system?

Please select one item
Ticked Yes
No
If yes, please explain your answer.
Income replacement benefits are set at a very low level – to the extent that the UK is in breach of article 12 of the European Social Charter (the right to social security) and of questionable compliance with article 13 (the right to social assistance). Claimants can therefore ill afford any further reduction of income. The procedure for recover of overpayments should be reviewed to ensure that, where there is no fault on the part of the claimant, weekly repayments are as low as possible. If in the case of small overpayments this means that the cost of recovery equals or exceeds the amount of money to be recovered, the sum should be written off.

What are your views on the role that financial advice can play in the recovery of overpayments?

views on the role that financial advice can play in the recovery of overpayments
Financial advice can help. Money helps more.

Fraud

Should the existing Scottish Government approach to fraud be adopted for use in our social security system?

If no, what else should be used instead?
As the consultation document points out, social security is an investment in the people of Scotland that needs to be protected. However, there is also an aspiration to build a system that treats people with dignity. While there may be no acceptable level of intentional fraud, it is also clear that some fraud occurs because people do not believe they can enjoy a life in dignity on the income that would otherwise be available to them. So while robust enforcement is understandable, there needs to be a relationship of proportionality between the penalty applied and the real level of culpability of the offender, with motive playing a role in this calculation. Prevention appears near the top of the list of elements of the anti-fraud strategy, and it is preferable that fraud should be prevented in the first place rather than met with widespread punishment of offenders through financial penalties which, if need has been the primary motive, may risk displacement of social security fraud into other forms of property crime. If the approach to fraud is to be driven by the principle that social security is an investment in the people of Scotland, then attempts to combat social security fraud should be mirrored with equally robust efforts to reduce tax fraud and to improve uptake of benefits from those who are entitled.

How could the new Scottish social security system ‘design out’ errors and reduce the potential for fraud at the application stage?

How could the new Scottish social security system ‘design out’ errors and reduce the potential for fraud at the application stage?
Fraud and error are separate issues and a Scottish approach should avoid DWP’s tendency to conflate the two.

What are your views on the existing range of powers granted to investigators?

What are your views on the existing range of powers granted to investigators?
The powers available are reasonable, but greater control may be required over the circumstances in which they can be exercised. Often an administrative officer can make use of fairly intrusive investigatory powers on the ‘reasonable grounds’ that another AO might consider the use of the powers to be reasonable. Tighter checks and balances are required.

What are your views on conducting interviews under caution?

What are your views on conducting interviews under caution?
It would be highly irregular not to caution a claimant being interviewed as part of an investigation into fraud, which is a criminal offence. Not to do so would be difficult to reconcile with Police and Criminal Evidence codes of practice and use of any evidence thereby gathered in any subsequent prosecution could raise issues of compliance with the right to a fair trial under article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Should the Scottish Government impose the same level of penalties for social security fraud as are currently imposed?

Please explain your answer.
In its report on the Welfare Reform Bill (Northern Ireland), the Committee for Social Development recommended the retention of informal cautions for minor cases of fraud and attempted fraud. Scotland should consider reintroduction of these lesser penalties. Caution should also be exercised before encouraging those suspected of fraud to accept an administrative penalty as an alternative to prosecution, when there may be a reasonable chance of being found not guilty or a lesser penalty being imposed on prosecution. If the Scottish Government is serious about protecting claimant dignity, official ‘naming and shaming’ of those convicted should not take place on a routine basis. Severity of penalty is ultimately unlikely to reduce the incidence of need-based fraud or non-notification of change of circumstances by those claimants who are unsure what sort of change of circumstances is significant enough to require notification. Following up criminal penalties with a social security sanction represents a double punishment and a threat to dignity due to the reduction of income below acceptable levels, of questionable compliance with article 8 ECHR and potentially (in extreme cases of destitution) article 3.

Safeguarding your information

Would you support strictly controlled sharing of information between public sector bodies and the agency, where legislation allowed, to make the application process easier for claimants? For example, this information could be used to prepopulate application forms or to support applications, reducing the burden on applicants.

Please select one item
Ticked Yes
No

Would you support strictly controlled sharing of information between a Scottish social security agency and other public sector organisations (for example local authorities) to support service improvements and deliver value for money?

Please select one item
Ticked Yes
No

What are your views on having the option to complete social security application forms online? Can you foresee any disadvantages?

What are your views on having the option to complete social security application forms online? Can you foresee any disadvantages?
No disadvantages and many advantages associated with having the option, but important that those with low digital literacy still have the option of completing a paper form and meeting with an adviser.

What are your views on the new agency providing a secure email account or other electronic access to check and correct information for the purposes of assessing applications (noting that any such provision would need to be audited and regulated so that the security and accuracy of the information would not be compromised)?

What are your views on the new agency providing a secure email account or other electronic access to check and correct information for the purposes of assessing applications
People might prefer to communicate through their own email address, although data security regulations might be a barrier to this.

Uprating

What are your views on the best way to ensure that devolved benefits keep pace with the cost of living?

What are your views on the best way to ensure that devolved benefits keep pace with the cost of living
Most benefits should be uprated in line with inflation as a minimum to ensure they retain their value. However, if Scotland is to retain child poverty targets now scrapped by the UK government, it will be unable to meet these without closing the income gap. The Scottish Government might, then, consider use of its top-up powers to deliver increases in child-related benefits that outpace inflation and wage growth, as with the ‘triple lock’ on pensions at UK level. If the government wished to go further and bring social security provision into line with the European Social Charter requirements, it would have to take this approach with all income replacement benefits.

Are there any devolved benefits in particular where uprating based on a measure of inflation would not be effective? If so, please explain which benefits and why.

devolved benefits in particular where uprating based on a measure of inflation would not be effective? If so, please explain which benefits and why
If a benefit is intended for a very specific purpose, inflation might not be the best measure for uprating. The housing element of universal credit would be better uprated in line with housing costs specifically, and the winter fuel payment and cold weather payment would arguably be better uprated in line with energy costs (which might mean reduction some years).

Partial Equality Impact Assessment (EQIA)

How can the Scottish Government improve its partial EqIA so as to produce a full EqIA to support the bill?

How can the Scottish Government improve its partial EqIA so as to produce a full EqIA to support the bill?
Policymakers need not look far for information on the inequalities inherent in the current UK system; these are laid bare in R (SG) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions [2015] (the judicial review of the household benefit cap). Models for equality impact assessment already exist under the Equality Act 2010 and s75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998. Although s1 of the Equality Act was not implemented due to the change of UK government in 2010, following the amendment to the devolution legislation made by s37 of the Scotland Act 2006 there appears to be nothing to stop the Scottish Parliament supplementing the Equality Act’s provisions by putting in place its own socio-economic duty. Application of a test of this nature to social security policy proposals and to the functioning of a Scottish social security agency would be consistent with the identified short, medium and long term outcomes for Scottish benefits. The proposed user panels, comparison of benefit levels to median income, the advice sector and organisations representative of user groups might all be expected to have a contribution to make to the assessment process. In establishing the appropriate level of benefits (including potential use of the top-up power), reference should be made to the proposed Child Poverty (Scotland) Bill and European Social Charter. The UK is a party to the latter, but the level of many income replacement benefits is below the minimum acceptable level as indicated by the European Committee on Social Rights. Reference might also be made to empirical indicators of typical living costs, such as the JRF’s Minimum Income Standard and housing costs. Independent scrutiny (see section 5 below) will help ensure the visions, principles and equality objectives are realised. Consideration must be given to the relative importance of socio-economic equality within Scotland and equal treatment of claimants across the UK.