Response 383261652

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Information About You

What is your name?

Name
Nicola Sutherland

Are you responding as an individual or an organisation?

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(Required)
Individual
Ticked Organisation

What is your organisation?

Organisation
Perth & Kinross Council

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Ticked Publish response with name
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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
Ticked A. As a 'Claimant Charter'?
B. Placing principles in legislation?
C. Some other way

What should be in the charter?

What should be in the charter
In the interests of fairness and balance, any Charter should reflect the rights and responsibilities of those receiving the service as well as those providing the service, similar to the NHS Patient’s Charter. A Charter would be easier to amend and would be more responsive to needs on an on-going basis and would be more accessible and understood members of the public. Legislation can be too far removed and/or open to interpretation. The Charter should only include issues pertaining to customer service and expected standards of behaviour. A Charter should not replace legal rights but simply set a standard of acceptable behaviour and service.

Should the charter be drafted by:

Please select one item
Ticked An advisory group?
A wider group of potential user and other groups or organisations?
Both
Some other way
If other, please specify
The Charter should be drafted by an advisory group which includes potential users and groups or organisations who represent potential users. The group should also include experienced benefit practitioners and those with experience of similar Charter(s).

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".
The term “claimant” has negative connotations, perhaps due to the way the term is used in the media, however it the term is an accurate description. The "People’s Charter”, "Citizens' Charter" or “The Social Security Charter of Rights and Responsibilities” could be considered as alternatives to the "Claimant Charter". The Charter should clearly set out the standards expected from both those administering the benefits and those receiving the benefits this should ensure a fair and equitable set of standards for all parties.

Do you have any further comments on the 'Claimant Charter'?

other comments - claimant charter
Ideally, everyone should be treated with dignity and respect, as a minimum, irrespective of charter or legislation. Dignity and respect, for the purposes of this consultation, seem to be defined as per the statement on page 11, and is concerned with the language used and that any language used should not stigmatise claimants. It is important that the correct culture is embedded within any agency delivering Scottish Benefits, from the outset and that the principle of dignity and respect is at the heart of the business. Whether or not someone feels that they have been treated with dignity and respect is subjective and it is for this reason that a Charter seems the most suitable way to communicate the principles. It is important that we establish a benefit system where the staff administering the benefits are committed to the principles. Staff administering the benefits should feel that they are given the tools and training to do the job and that they have a clear understanding of the expected standard both to and from those claiming benefit.

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
The term dignity and respect is subjective and would be difficult to define in law, a charter would be more readily available, accessible, easier to understand and easier to amend.

Outcomes and the User Experience

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

Please select one item
Ticked Yes
No
Please explain why.
Yes. The outcomes seem to embrace the removal of stigma and other barriers from those claiming benefits and this is refreshing and encouraging. These outcomes seem to demonstrate a significant shift from the current perception perpetuated by the media of those receiving benefit. We must also be mindful, however, of balance in all things and that with rights to statutory entitlements come responsibilities and there may be criticism of a system which may not be seen to be robust and fair. Mutual respect is key to the success of any system and this sentiment should flow through all of the outcomes. The Scottish Government should take ownership of all of the devolved benefits in terms of policy and this should be made clear irrespective of whether benefits are administered centrally by one agency, centrally by more than one agency, delivered locally or a combination of central and local delivery.

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
Yes. One of the Four Pillars of the Christie Commission was for, “greater investment in the people who deliver services through enhanced workforce development and effective leadership”. With regard to the second heading, "The Social Security system", careful consideration should be given to be an additional outcome which makes a commitment to those delivering/administering Social Security benefits in Scotland. This outcome should ensure that those delivering/administering Social Security are adequately resourced, adequately trained, that they have adequate access to information (data-sharing) and that adequate funding is provided. This outcome is fundamental to achieving all of the other outcomes. It is also a clear statement that those delivering/administering social security are valued. The current system is often criticised because DWP staff do not have the skills or knowledge to provide advice, guidance information or even signposting to other sources of help available out with their specialist area.

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
Page 11 of the paper "Creating a Fairer Scotland: A New Future for Social Security in Scotland" states that, "Treating people with dignity and respect means using language that is carefully considered and does not stigmatise". The language used is imperative to ensure people's understanding of the system. The Scottish Government should ensure that all communications are provided in a variety of formats and through a variety of methods. The language used should avoid technical terms and jargon. It should be available in different formats including large print, braille and different languages. It should also be available via email, text and letter. Online and social media should be used for guidance and information. Where communication by phone is used a record of the call should be kept in all cases for at least the time that any dispute may arise or in line with data retention policies. Any notification of entitlement should be confirmed in writing and any other potential entitlements and rights of review and appeal should be included in any correspondence.

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?
The Scottish Government should consult with Third Sector organisations to establish an understanding of what language may be considered stigmatising to the groups they represent including Poverty Alliance, disability groups, BME groups and groups representing women and LGBT communities.

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.
The Scottish Government should avoid terms such as “workless” and “worklessness” which was used in communications regarding free childcare places for two-year-olds from qualifying households. The terminally caused division and stigma (perhaps more so due to media reporting) and this was our experience at a local level. The Poverty Alliance, Stick your Labels campaign provides terms that should be avoided.

What else could be done to enhance the user experience:

When people first get in touch?
When people first make contact they should be offered a comprehensive benefit check which takes into account the reserved benefit system as well as the Scottish Social Security system. They should be offered information and advice regarding other relevant schemes or services which may be of benefit to them in their local area. They should be made aware of the different methods of claiming benefits and, where appropriate, should be encouraged to make claims in the way that is best suited to them. When people first make contact they should be offered a comprehensive benefit check which takes into account the reserved benefit system as well as the Scottish Social Security system. People should be offered information and advice regarding other relevant schemes or services which may be of benefit to them in their local area.
When they are in the process of applying for a benefit?
They should be made aware of the different methods of claiming benefits and, where appropriate, should be encouraged to make claims in the way that is best suited to them. Signposting or, preferably, seamless referral to advice and representation services in the person's local area
When a decision is made (for example, about whether they receive a benefit)?
Transparency – any decision should be explained in a manner that can be referred back to by a claimant. Claimant rights and responsibilities must be clear – for example notification of appeal rights with any decision affecting entitlement and information about changes in circumstances that must be reported, including the time period for reporting and how this can be done.
When they are in receipt of a benefit?
Online access to benefit entitlement, "claimant account", as well as general advice and information through social media and via advice and representation agencies.

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
Claim forms should ask what the preferred method of contact is and this should be noted and used by those administering Scottish benefits, any communication relating to a benefit decision should always be notified in writing, as a minimum, including review or appeal rights, information about other entitlements and where people can go for advice and assistance in their local area, avoiding bland signposting to national organisations. The Scottish Government should consider this unique opportunity to develop the digital technology available to provide an online portal e.g. “My Account”. The portal could provide online applications, a view of the person’s entitlements, a mechanism for people to report changes in circumstances, upload evidence and to challenge decisions. This two-way method of communication could be an effective use of the funding available, could speed up processing times – preventing delays in decision-making and could provide a permanent record and audit trail for the claimant and the agency. This should not be a compulsory method of communication and any risk to system security would have to be minimised.

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
Co-production and co-design should be an integral part of the creation and development of the Scottish Security Agency and/or Scottish benefits and stakeholder groups could be established to focus on specific areas as and when required.

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".
The term Stakeholders Group or Focus Group should be considered.

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.
The Social Security Agency should be responsible for all of the policies at a national level. Consideration should be given to local administration by Local Authorities, however all legislation, policy and guidance should be made by the Scottish Social Security Agency. Local Authorities have the required infrastructure and access to information from key agencies, including DWP and importantly, Health & Social Care Partnerships. Local Authorities have a proven track record of delivering and administering a range of benefits and schemes, both regulated and discretionary. The skills, expertise and local knowledge exists within Local Authorities to provide a holistic, wraparound package of benefit administration and readily available access to other advice and services which could prevent further need, financial or otherwise. At the moment Local Authorities are responsible for the delivery of the following: Council Tax Reduction Housing Benefit Discretionary Housing Payments Education Maintenance Allowance Free School Meals School Clothing Grants Range of Council Tax exemptions, reductions and disregards Disabled Person’s Parking Badge National Entitlement Cards There would be substantial risk attached to the administration of the devolved benefits from a new agency which has neither the experience nor the infrastructure. Local Authorities have experience of both internal and external scrutiny. The devolved benefits will be claimed by some of the most vulnerable people in our communities and therefore any risks to the administration should be minimised, ensuring that the needs of the people of Scotland are met. The nature of the Scottish benefits (disability-related, carers, children and older people) sit naturally within a Local Authority setting where a package of ancillary benefits, concessions and services are already delivered. Knowledge of the local area would be a considerable advantage and would fulfil the principles of the Scottish Social Security System, not least in terms of principle 5, “We will demonstrate that our services are efficient and value for money.”

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

Please select one item
Ticked Yes
No
Please explain your answer.
Any move towards in-kind payment of on-going benefit is in conflict with the personalisation agenda and Self-Directed Support. With reference to the debates in the Scottish Parliament regarding the principle of "dignity and respect" during the passing of The Welfare Funds (Scotland) Act, Scottish Ministers were committed to the provision of cash, or equivalent, in terms of Crisis Grant fulfilment. The provision of cash for the purposes of an on-going benefit does not promote individual choice and could perhaps perpetuate stigma and reinforce beliefs that those claiming benefits should be denied choice and that their access to assistance should be restricted, monitored, supervised and even controlled. Any provision of goods or services should be requested by the person claiming benefit and should not be determined by any agency administering the benefit(s). People should be free to choose what their entitlement should be used for and this should not be prescribed by any Government agency. Cash payment may not be the best method of fulfilling one-off benefits e.g. the devolved regulated Social Fund, in particular, Funeral Payments. Procurement of goods and services may be the best use of the funds available by using collective purchasing power similar to the Scotland Excel Framework used for the fulfilment of Community Care Grants. The Scottish Government should also be mindful of the fact that goods can be sold on which would potentially devalue any benefit payment as a result.

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

How best can we harness digital services for social security in Scotland?
One of Christie’s Four Pillars was, “a sharp focus on improving performance, through greater transparency, innovation and use of digital technology”. Digital services should be an integral part of any Scottish Social Security benefit system, however this should not be the only method of access and any move towards compulsory digital access should be avoided, at this time. Application, information, advice and guidance should all be available digitally. Digital methods should complement traditional methods, such as via the telephone and face-to-face. A progressive system should not assume that people cannot self-serve nor should it assume that everyone can. A progressive system should make all channels available and in the interests of cost, efficiency and effectiveness, it should promote independence and support those who are not yet in a position to self-serve. Locally authorities provide access to all channels with most services having an assisted self-service provision which minimises the cost of re-keying and can preserve accuracy of information.

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

Please select one item
Ticked Yes
No
Please explain your answer.
Digital and telephone access to benefits will suit the needs of the majority of people claiming benefits and should be promoted in the interests of cost, efficiency and effectiveness, however there should also be face-to-face options available to those for whom digital and telephone services are not adequate. These services should be provided locally.

Who should deliver social security assessments for disability related benefits?

Who should deliver social security assessments for disability related benefits?
If social security assessments for disability related benefits are required then they should be delivered by the public sector. Additional assessments should be avoided and better use should be made of existing information, assessments and records, with the consent of the person claiming benefit. Data-sharing should be permitted for specific purposes between public sector agencies. The Scottish Government should consider carefully the value of any additional assessments and take heed from public perceptions and factual accounts of private contractors undertaking assessments and the perception of bias and/or fulfilling a Government agenda. Existing information provided by healthcare and other professionals involved in the care and/or treatment of the person claiming benefit should be considered first and foremost.

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

Please select one item
Ticked Yes
No
Please explain your answer.
Yes. One of Christie’s Four Pillars was, “greater integration of public services at a local level driven by better partnership, collaboration and effective local delivery” The Scottish Government should go further and use existing assessments, medical information and reports from professionals involved in the care and treatment of the person claiming benefits to inform decision-making. This information could be readily available or easier to access, data protection rules permitting, in Local Authorities through Health and Social Care Partnerships. Not only is this a common sense approach but it also reduces the pressure and often trauma on those claiming benefits. Additional assessments alone can be a barrier to people making claims for benefits. The Scottish Government should consider reducing the need for additional assessments as these can be costly and can increase stress and exacerbate symptoms of those claiming benefits.

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?

Please select one item
Yes
Ticked No
If yes, which aspects?
It is not clear that 3rd sector organisations have the infrastructure or experience in place to administer or deliver social security benefits, there would be substantial risk involved in this option. We would not encourage private sector delivery. Media accounts and public perception of the role of the private sector delivering traditional public sector services is often not favourable. It is our view that Local Authority delivery would minimise any risk attached to the delivery of devolved Scottish benefits. Local Government is ideally placed to deliver any or all aspects of the devolved benefits.

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?
The intention to develop a full EqIA and to include impact on low income households is welcomed. In developing the EqIA the Scottish Government needs to engage with a wide range of stakeholders, in particular, disability, carers and low income groups including low income households. Some benefits have more obvious inequality issues than others in the way that they are designed, e.g. Winter Fuel Payments are currently paid to anyone of pension credit qualifying age despite the fact that they may not require additional financial assistance; Attendance Allowance is outdated and assumes that any mobility problems from the age of 65 are age-related, carers are penalised from earning over a certain weekly amount.

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.
If the aim of the Scottish Government is to create a social security system that is progressive, transparent and fair then it requires an independent body capable of scrutinising proposals and legislation. It is inevitable that with the passage of time the Scottish Government will develop blind spots or fail, even with the best of intentions, to address matters which need to be considered and an independent body would be fundamental to the accountability and success of the Scottish Social Security Agency.

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 select one item
Ticked Yes
No
Please explain your answer.
Please explain your answer Any such independent body should be established in legislation. An independent body, established in law, with the powers to scrutinise provides transparency, accountability, research, knowledge and trust in an agency that is insightful and understands that scrutiny is fundamental to a system that is fair and progressive. The independent body should publish regular reports and recommendations should be published. Any system based on administrative scrutiny fails the test of independence.

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
Any appointments should be time limited and be restricted to a single fixed term. Appointments should be staggered to ensure a broad range of professional experience and user experience. The chair should be appointed by the members of the committee not by any Minister.

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.
In a time of restricted funding and in-keeping with the principle of “value for money” the establishment of a new independent body may not be necessary and we would suggest that existing knowledge and expertise exists within Audit Scotland. Audit Scotland’s duties could extend to oversee Scottish Social Security decision-making standards. Any decision-makers once appointed should be provided with adequate training to ensure minimum standards of competence and customer service/

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

Please select one item
Ticked Yes
No
Please explain your answer.
Yes, an independent body would inspire trust and confidence and Scottish Social Security system.

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
Please specify below In order to ensure that there are robust systems of decision-making and governance in place then regular audits should be undertaken by an independent body which may include the following: Time taken to make a decision Learning & Development (competence) Standard/quality of decision-making System security Financial controls Management and allocation of workload Service accessibility Segregation of duties Customer service Communication

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.
Disability Living Allowance (DLA): Positive What is right with DLA? DLA is non-means-tested, non-contributory and non-taxable and only ever has a positive impact on income. The qualifying period is adequate. The person must have had the disability for three months before the claim and be likely to have the disability for at least six months after the date of the claim. This test is more favourable that the test of disability within the Equalities Act 2010. The mobility component takes account of a wide range of issues pertaining to getting around and acknowledges the issues that those with mental health problems may face. The benefit takes into account a fairly broad and subjective definition of personal care, attention and supervision that is reasonably required. DLA takes into account how the condition affects people differently as well as how the combined effect of a variety of conditions can impact on people. The "reasonably required" test. DLA takes account of what help is "reasonably required" rather than what help is actually received and therefore does not exclude people who do not receive the help they need. Requirement for face-to-face assessment. Assessments of this kind are not a regular feature of DLA in the same way that they are for PIP. Evidence is routinely requested from healthcare or other professionals e.g. within social services and schools to assist with the assessment of a person's entitlement to benefit. Negative The care component assesses when the help is needed i.e. day time or night-time, this can result in people who are extremely debilitated who need lots of attention or supervision throughout the day, but who may need little or no attention or supervision during the night, losing out because of when the help is needed and not how much help is needed.

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

Please explain your views (both positive and negative) on personal independence payment.
Personal Independence Payment Positive What is right with PIP? PIP is non-means-tested, non-contributory and non-taxable and only ever has a positive impact on income. The Daily Living component takes into account how much help is needed rather than when the help is needed, therefore people who need a lot of help/care/attention irrespective of the time of day/night are considered equally. It is the intensity of care that is required that determines the level of award made. Negative Most other benefits have an element of discretion, however this is not the case with PIP. PIP is rigid and in it's assessment process and claimants are required to fit a prescriptive set of descriptors and there is no scope out with these. An example would be Employment & Support Allowance, although ESA is based around a set of descriptors, both Schedule 2 & 3 have regulations (Regs 27 & 35 respectively) which provide scope for "something else" or "exceptional circumstances" to be considered. Medical assessments. Almost all claimants are required to undertake a medical assessment for PIP, whilst it is widely acknowledged that this system is costly and can be traumatic for the claimant, especially when the required information has either been gathered or can be gathered elsewhere, there is also a public perception that the assessments are biased and/or have an agenda or that there are targets set by the DWP. The use of private organisations delivering these services may not be considered a good use of public resources. The test for the mobility component is too high for those with physical or mental health problems.

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

Please explain your views (both positive and negative) on personal independence payment.
Attendance Allowance Attendance Allowance has become outdated and consideration should be given to the abolition of the benefit. Advances in technology and medicine and higher standards of living, the fact that people are living longer have rendered the case for ending any entitlement to the mobility component from 65th birthday obsolete. It can no longer be assumed, generally, that any mobility issues from age 65 are age-related, least so when people are required by law to work longer. Replacing Attendance Allowance with DLA and ending the ability to apply for the mobility component at the relevant retirement age at that time may be a more progressive AA in it's current form is not progressive enough and streamlining the system to one disability benefit from cradle to grave may serve to simplify the system, even if only in terms of access and awareness. The mobility component for children can only be claimed from certain ages (3 or 5 depending on circumstances). Introducing an upper age limit for the mobility component to be considered could result in a fairer, more progressive benefit and may prevent people from missing out because they do not know the name of the benefit that they should be claiming. One disability benefit for all should be considered.

Please explain your views (both positive and negative) on industrial injuries disablement benefit.

Please explain your views (both positive and negative) on personal independence payment.
Industrial Injuries benefit Positive Negative Can only be claimed by those who are employed and takes no account of those who are engaged in self-employment. This could be considered unequal at a time when public discourse is centred around self-employment and creating "entrepreneurs"

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.
A “whole of life” disability benefit which can be claimed at any point from cradle to grave. One disability benefit would simplify accessibility and make the Scottish benefits system easier to navigate. A progressive benefit which does not review benefit entitlement of those where a medical professional involved in their care has signed/certified to confirm that their condition is permanent, progressive/degenerative, that would not/has not improved by treatment/medical intervention nor is it likely to and not only when the person is nearing end of life. A disability benefit that takes account of how the disability affects the person based on evidence provided by professionals involved in their care or treatment and not by independent medicals conducted by private sector agencies.

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

Please explain your answer.
All channels should be available. Paper, assisted self-service via telephone, face-to-face and online.

How should the new Scottish social security system operate in terms of the eligibility criteria set for the benefit?

Please explain your answer.
Eligibility criteria should be set closer to that of DLA and should include automatic provision in some cases as previously stated.

How should the new Scottish social security system operate in terms of the assessment / consideration of the application and the person’s disability and/or health condition?

Please explain your answer.
Use of existing evidence as opposed to contracting private organisations to conduct medical assessments.

How should the new Scottish social security system operate in terms the provision of entitlements and awards (at present cash payments and the option of the Motability Scheme)?

Please explain your answer.
Cash payments and motability scheme should both be retained under a Scottish system.

How should the new Scottish social security system operate in terms of the review and appeal process where a person isn’t content with the outcome?

Please explain your answer.
Remove the mandatory reconsideration stage. Reconsideration should be an natural and integral part of any robust review/appeals process and this should not have to requested in addition to a review/appeal, however at the moment people may lose out on the opportunity to appeal a decision because of the overly bureaucratic system that is in place. The current system requires the claimant to request a mandatory reconsideration and if the claimant is unhappy they then have to send the mandatory reconsideration notice to the HMCTS along with their letter of appeal. This can be seen as a barrier and waste of time, people can lose their MRDN and may decide not to challenge decisions as a result.

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.
Please explain your answer Timescales should be set in law for evidence gathering and decision-making. Unreasonable delays can have devastating effects on disabled people claiming benefits and additional entitlements arising from reserved means-tested benefits. The Scottish Government should give consideration to including all Scottish Benefits as qualifying benefits for ancillary benefits within the Scottish Government’s gift e.g. free school meals and NEC. Local delivery by Local Authorities could make one-stop shop delivery a reality.

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
Sufficient information to identify the claimant, National Insurance Number, evidence of the condition(s) causing disability and: • Claimant’s own statement of Care provided or reasonably required/Limitation to mobility and help required to overcome that limitation • Claimant’s evidence of financial and/or social situation • Such other information as is required to assess entitlement as required where the above is insufficient

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

Please explain why.
Those administering the benefits should be responsible for gathering the evidence required to make the decisions as much as is reasonably practicable, thus reducing the barriers for the people claiming benefit. GPs often charge a fee when providing medical evidence, this could mean that people claiming benefit may have to bear a financial burden in order to be assessed for benefit, this would not provide a positive experience for the individual. Those claiming benefit should be encouraged to provide whatever evidence they already have to ensure that a robust and fair decision is made, however ultimately the evidence gathering should be the duty of those administering the benefit.

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 no, please explain why.
Where data sharing cannot be permitted in law then this should be the alternative position.

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

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?
It is one way and should be included in any Scottish Disability Benefit. The following should be taken into account: Care provided or “reasonably required” (so recognising unmet need as well as care actually provided) to maintain a reasonable standard of living – including attention and supervision. Limitations to mobility from both physical and mental health that would effectively prevent a claimant participating in society and being socially isolated e.g. not being able to go to GP or supermarket. Automatic entitlements should also be considered.

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?
Yes. The current special rules for people who are terminally ill is something that works well and should be retained under any Scottish disability benefit. The current system has reduced bureaucracy, relies on medical evidence and also provides an opportunity for the person claiming benefit (or someone claiming on their behalf) to give information about how their condition affects them. A similar system could be extended to people with permanent, progressive and/or degenrative conditions once they reach a certain stage in their condition. These conditions may include neurological conditions such as Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson's and Motor-Neuron Disease. The Scottish Government may wish to seek guidance from medical professionals to decide what conditions (or if indeed conditions need to be specified) and at what point the person be automatically entitled to the Scottish disability benefit indefinitely and at a higher or the highest rate. Medical professionals should be consulted specifically around an automatic entitlement where a GP/consultant can certify that the person’s condition is permanent and that there is no reasonable chance of amelioration of their condition through treatment, surgery or other therapeutic intervention and that the condition is so debilitating that it would not be reasonable to expect the person to maintain an adequate level of personal care. The Scottish Government may also wish to consider extending a provision to people receiving treatment, as is the case in ESA for people with cancer. Consideration may be given to short-term awards or enhanced payments to those who are undergoing certain treatments or therapeutic interventions.

How could this be determined?

How could this be determined?
Requesting medical evidence as to the stage a condition has reached and prognosis. The Scottish Government should make the best use of existing resources and should not seek to award contracts to organisations to duplicate and/or replicate information which is already 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?
Please specify below Any disadvantages should be limited if there is clear, prescriptive criteria based on existing records, information and evidence. Those with permanent, progressive conditions could be made a "life award" under the Scottish disability benefit scheme. From a whole systems perspective this could improve the person claiming benefit's experience, this could prevent tiers of bureaucracy and prevent repeat requests for information from the individual and the professionals involved in their care where there can be, or is unlikely to be, any change in the person's condition. This may reduce overall costs of administering the benefit and should provide comfort and confidence for those with permanent, progressive conditions that they will be provided with an income which supports them until the end of their life. Although automatic entitlements, in addition to special rules for the terminally ill, should feature within a Scottish Disability Benefit, care should be taken that these are not the only conditions for an award. The effects of some conditions are not easily predictable and may manifest in different ways in different individuals and entitlements that cannot be determined automatically should continue to attract entitlement.

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
Many people claiming benefit, and those who do not, would be relieved that a common sense approach was being used and that existing resources were being used to determine benefit decisions. Those claiming benefit should be given the option to consent.This may be seen as a more cost-effective and efficient way of administering the Scottish disability benefit.

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

Please select one item
Ticked Yes
No

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

Please select one item
Ticked Yes
No
Please explain your reasons.
A lump-sum instead of on-going payment may cause unnecessary demands on other areas e.g. Scottish Welfare Fund. Consideration should be given to any unintended consequences of such a feature. Consideration should be given to how this is decided and administered and it should not replace on-going payments. An advance of payment for a limited number of weeks e.g. 8 weeks could be considered.

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 select one item
Ticked Yes
No
Please explain why.
As stated in earlier answers, consideration should be given to one Scottish Disability Benefit with interventions to meet specific needs at certain life stages or situations as is the case with DLA. Mobility component can only be claimed at either 3 or 5 years depending on the difficulties the child has.

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

Please explain your answer.
Advantages: easier access, no need to reclaim at age 16, mobility to be claimed beyond age 65, more affordable to administer, simplification of application process, easier to access. Disadvantages: may be more complex application process unless forms are designed for each stage depending on age etc.

Could the current assessment processes for disability benefits be improved?

Please select one item
Ticked Yes
No
Please explain how.
Please see earlier answers around data sharing and removing the need for medical assessments by private providers and including automatic entitlements.

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
Face-to-face assessments should be avoided as much as possible (making the best use of existing information), however there may be times where individuals have been unable to seek care or treatment and a similar system as existed within working-age DLA should be used (Examining Medical Practitioners) with a minimum GP qualification should visit people in their homes. This should be the exception rather than the rule.

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?
Online and paper-based forms are more suited to disability benefits. Paper forms are often most suitable for advice agencies providing support. These forms are lengthy and are not suited to a telephone application process.

How could the existing assessment process be improved?

How could the existing assessment process be improved?
Only have face to face assessment where a claimant’s evidence is not supported by the professionals involved in their care or where the individual has been unable to seek care or treatment.

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

Please select one item
Ticked Yes
No
Please explain why. If yes, please explain what technology would be helpful e.g. Skype, video conferencing.
Yes but should be to assist the claimant to access benefits and not as a default – for example the over reliance of digital communication currently being used through Universal Credit clearly disadvantages claimants who are digitally excluded, or have barriers from health, social or economic issues. Local Authorities and Health Services use technology to provide care services e.g. Telecare and Telehealth, these could be extended to those in receipt of benefit.

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.
Please see earlier comments where individuals have permanent, progressive conditions that are not responsive to treatment or other therapeutic intervention(s).

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
Certification from a medical professional that an individual’s condition is so debilitating that reassessment is not necessary.

Who should provide that evidence?

Who should provide that evidence
GP/other health professional or by claimant in reporting change of circumstances

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 select one item
Yes
Ticked No
Please explain why.
In-keeping with the principle of dignity and respect, disability benefits should be paid on an on-going cash basis, as need could be moved elsewhere in the system e.g. Scottish Welfare Fund, social services, however the Scottish Government may wish to take direction from disability groups on this issue.

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

Please select one item
Yes
Ticked No
Please explain why. If yes, what are they?
Please see earlier comments.

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
Yes
Ticked No

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
By extending the mobility component and the Motability scheme.

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?
Please see above.

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
By offering impartial and advice and representation and signposting to local services.

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
Please specify below At evidence gathering stage obtaining information from relevant organisations. We would not support any proposal to merge applications for disability with care needs assessments as it would alter entitlement from the current basis that needs are ‘reasonably required’ where a claimant may be independent and not engaged with services. Where this is the case independent assessments should be requested. Existing medical and SW assessments should be used and shared.
How do you think this might be achieved?
At request of the agency delivering the benefits from the relevant public sector service.
What are the risks?
Sharing of inappropriate /sensitive information Replication of mistakes - if an assessment is inaccurate that error would then be shared across the different services

If DLA and PIP help meet the additional costs of disability, what is the role of IIDB and its supplementary allowances (Constant Attendance Allowance, Reduced Earnings Allowance etc) in the benefits system?

Please explain your answers.
Please specify below This is a very good question and one which should be carefully considered by the Scottish Government when designing the devolved benefits system. What is the role of IIDB in 2016 and beyond given the changes in working practices, implementation of health and safety legislation and the provision of income replacement and disability benefits? We would like to reiterate that serious consideration is given to a "whole life" disability benefit. Better use can be made of the money and powers by introducing an enhanced disability scheme based on Disability Living Allowance.

What is right with the IIDB scheme?

What is right with the IIDB scheme?
It is a no fault scheme so can be paid to those who do not have the wherewithal to sue an employer or are unable to successfully attribute blame. It is a non means tested benefit so can be paid to claimants who have other household income or savings

What is wrong with the IIDB scheme?

What is wrong with the IIDB scheme?
The scheme takes account of employed persons only, although IIDB is a no blame scheme, it makes no provision for self-employed workers. It is taken into account for means-tested benefits and an award can often render people worse-off by removing means-tested benefits and any ancillary benefits that they would have previously been entitled to. It is out-dated and the prescribed diseases do lean towards male-dominated heavy industry, therefore men are more likely to qualify and this has equalities implications.

Should different approaches be taken for people with life limiting conditions compared to people with less severe conditions?

What would be the advantages or disadvantages of such an approach?
The Scottish Government should give consideration to enhancing Scottish Legal Aid Board to ensure that people can access support where required in terms of industrial accident/disease. One enhanced "whole of life" disability benefit could replace IIDB.

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

Please select one item
Yes
Ticked No

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

Please select one item
Yes
Ticked No
If yes, what should be the priorities be? What barriers might there be to this approach?
The Scottish Government should give consideration to enhancing Scottish Legal Aid Board to ensure that people can access support where required in terms of industrial accident/disease. One whole of life disability benefit could replace IIDB.

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

Please select one item
Ticked Yes
No
Please explain why.
Severe Disablement Allowance was abolished in 2001. The number of people in receipt of the benefit reduces each year. We welcome the Scottish Government's commitment to ensuring that those receiving SDA when the powers are transferred continue to receive the same level of benefit.

Carer's Allowance

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

Please select one item
Ticked Yes
No
Please explain why.
In principle, yes, however the Scottish Government's approach to developing a Scottish Carer's Benefit is not progressive enough. Any Scottish Carer's Benefit should be both non-means-tested and non-contributory, however consideration should be given to harmonising the qualifying criteria with that of Carer's Credit which is paid if the person provides care for 20 hours or more per week. Carer’s Allowance is an earnings replacement benefit, yet it attracts less weekly income than sickness or unemployment benefits. Carers often have to give up employment in order to look after someone, and the combined effect of the caring role and the lack of income can have adverse effects on the health and wellbeing of the carer. Caring for someone else is one of the most valued things that someone can do for another person, however the amount paid by the current system is not a meaningful value. Moreover, carers are often forced to rely solely on the benefits system for their income, not least because there is a maximum amount of earnings for those in receipt of CA, but because employment opportunities may be restricted. An increased earnings disregard would allow carers the choice of working more hours or in higher paid employment. In order to maximise their entitlement many carers claim IS/UC in addition to CA. The current system is complex and has unnecessary duplication. A review of the weekly amount should be considered as a priority, however the current Scottish Government proposal falls short of being in any way meaningful to most carers . In terms of equalities, women are more likely to undertake caring roles and are therefore disproportionately affected by the low level of benefit, limit on earnings and complexity within the current CA system. Whilst increasing the amount of any carer's benefit by 18%, to the same level as Jobseeker's Allowance, may sound positive in theory, in practice this could be a cost to the Scottish Government which would have been paid by the UK Government anyway via means-tested benefits (surely an unintended consequence of this policy decision?). The Scottish Government should therefore consider whether this is the best use of public money. This proposal falls short if the Scottish Government's intention is to increase the income level for carers with the lowest incomes. The likelihood is that this increase would only benefit those who are not in receipt of means-tested benefit i.e. carers not on the lowest incomes. Examples: Single carer under 25 is (£62.10) and Income Support (£30.40). The total weekly income is £92.50. Single carer over 25 is claiming Carer's Allowance (£62.10) and Income Support (£45.60). The total weekly income is £107.70. The Scottish Government proposal to increase the current level of CA in line with JSA is of no material value to those carers with the lowest incomes. The Scottish Government must be clear about it's intention regarding any increases to the amount of any Scottish Carer's Benefit? Would the increase only assist those with income levels above the minimum i.e. those not entitled to means-tested benefit? If so, the Scottish Government should give careful consideration to the reason for the increase and consider whether this is the best use of the funds available. Similarly, any increase to SCB to carers of disabled children may result in a reduction in means-tested benefit, which is currently paid by the UK Government, and again those carers in receipt of the lowest incomes would experience little or no change to their current financial situation. A substantial increased payment made via a SCB to the level of Employment & Support Allowance with a Support Component may be the most appropriate level of benefit to be considered, however there may also be unintended consequences for these carers if this removed their entitlement to means-tested benefits altogether. At the moment, Carer's Allowance is not a qualifying benefit for many of the ancillary benefits available in Scotland today e.g. Free School Meals, School Clothing Grants and National Entitlement Cards. Changes to the qualifying benefits for these ancillary benefits may result in an improved standard of living for carers in Scotland. A SCB should also remain non-means-tested, continue to pay national insurance credits and in addition, disregard any earned income and allow carers to undertake full-time education to ensure that carers have the opportunity to achieve their potential in the same way as other groups. Finally, "care" is not defined for the purposes of the current UK Government Carer's Allowance and for that reason the assessment process is a very light touch. There is no requirement for the care to be given in person e.g. calling someone via telephone to calm them down, to listen to them or to offer emotional support can contribute towards the hours of care provided per week. For this reason Carer's Allowance may be one of the most accessible benefits within the UK benefits system. The Scottish Government should take this into account when writing any legislation

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

Please select one item
Ticked Yes
No
Please explain why.
Please explain why Yes. In principle. Please see comments in the section above. Improved access to advice services is welcomed. The Scottish Government should be mindful of the unintended consequences of reduced utility tariffs. Due to the rurality of the Perth & Kinross area a significant amount of households (higher proportion than the Scottish average) are not connected to the gas network and the cost can often be twice as much for those householders as for those who are connected to the grid. The Scottish Government should take account of this when making any policy decisions that can directly affect other consumers, or not.

How can we improve the user experience for the carer (e.g. the application and assessment process for carer's benefit)?

How can we improve the user experience for the carer
Any application for a SCB should be made available online, via telephone and some face-to-face provision. The current assessment process for Carer's Allowance is a very light touch and for the most part a check is undertaken to ensure that the person receiving the care is in receipt of the middle or highest rate of the care component of DLA, any rate of the PIP Daily Living component or any rate of Attendance Allowance. The 35 hours per week care provided is generally accepted by way of declaration via the application form. "Care" is not defined for the purposes of the current UK Government Carer's Allowance and for that reason the assessment process is a very light touch. There is no requirement for the care to be given in person e.g. calling someone via telephone to calm them down, to listen to them or to offer emotional support can contribute towards the 35 hours per week. For this reason Carer's Allowance may be one of the most accessible benefits within the UK benefits system. The Scottish Government should take this into account when making any policy decisions for a SCB.

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 select one item
Yes
Ticked No
Please explain why.
A theme of dignity and respect runs through this consultation process and the Scottish Government's thinking, generally, for devolved Social Security. In-keeping with that theme, if part of the Scottish Government's aim is to allow carers to participate equally in society and remove/reduce barriers to the choices that living in an inclusive society brings then a cash benefit, surely, is the most dignified, respectful and delivers the most choice. Any in-kind provision should be in addition to cash award and therefore any Scottish Government ancillary benefits should include SCB as a qualifying benefit. The Scottish Government should give careful consideration to how reduced energy tariffs are funded. Energy suppliers will need to recoup any loss and the unintended consequence could be that other households experience additional costs. This may be seen as a form of indirect taxation. If reduced energy tariffs are introduced then the Scottish Government should consider how it would assist those claimants who are not connected to the gas network.

What alternative support should be considered?

What alternative support should be considered?
Please see comments above.

How can we achieve a better alignment between a future Scottish carer benefit and other devolved services?

How can we achieve a better alignment between a future Scottish carer benefit and other devolved services?
Better alignment between a future Scottish Carer Benefit and other devolved services could be achieved by Local Government delivery of SCB. Some devolved carers services sit within Local Government, in terms of carers assessments and services for the looked after, as well as advice services and other benefit delivery. Local Government delivery could mean a wraparound approach to service delivery at the earliest opportunity. A Christie Commission-style service which makes the best use of resources and technology.

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

Please select one item
Ticked Yes
No
Please explain why
Please see previous comments. In addition, we welcome the fact that the Scottish Government is giving consideration to; the definition of a carer; the suggestion that more than one award of SCB could be made; to reviewing existing CA rules when CA stops and starts, we assume linked to starting and stopping of the existing UK disability benefits at the qualifying rates and levels (due to time spent in hospital or other care institutions), and to when CA stops when the person being cared for reaches the end of their life. The Scottish Government should give consideration to the income "cliff-edge" that many carers with low incomes face when CA stops and that an extension of payment should take this into account, not least, when the person being cared for reaches the end of their life.

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
None.

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
The extension of the Winter Fuel Payment to families with disabled children is welcomed. In-keeping with the theme of fairness, equality and targeting resources at those most in need that runs throughout this consultation, the Scottish Government should give careful consideration to limiting WFP to those of pension-age who are in receipt of Pension Credit. Means-testing WFP of itself would not be cost-effective however using PC as a means of identifying those in most need financially would ensure a fairer system of administration and would go some way to ensuring fairness across the system. WFP, as it currently stands, is a universal payment paid on the basis of a person's age and is therefore paid to people who are wealthy and in turn does not target those in greatest need. The devolution of WFP is an ideal opportunity to redistribute the fund in a more equitable way. It is acknowledged that only two-thirds of those eligible to claim PC do so, however the Scottish Government could take this opportunity to undertake an awareness raising campaign throughout Scotland in conjunction with Local Authorities and advice services to ensure the maximum take-up possible. This measure would provide additional on-going assistance for many pensioner households who are in receipt of low incomes and would also increase take-up of Housing Benefit and, perhaps more specifically, Council Tax Reduction which is also under-claimed amongst the pensioner population.

Could changes be made to the eligibility criteria for Cold Weather Payments?

For example, what temperature and length should Cold Weather Payments be made on in Scotland?
The Scottish Government should seek direction from the expert groups mentioned in the consultation paper regarding changes to the Cold Weather Payments. Specific changes around those who are off-grid are welcomed.

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
Ticked Yes No
Flowers
Please select one item
Yes 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
Yes No
Order of service sheets
Please select one item
Yes No
Catering for wake/funeral reception
Please select one item
Yes No
Venue hire for a wake/funeral reception
Please select one item
Yes 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 select one item
Ticked Yes
No
Please explain why.
Full expenses for a dignified simple funeral should be provided recognising that bereavement is frequently a trigger for debt amongst low income families who struggle to cope with the financial impact of bereavement at a time when they are most emotionally vulnerable. The current system means that funeral directors who are aware that funeral grant payments will not even come close to covering costs may refuse to deal with any arrangements until a payment is made in advance, which makes claimants vulnerable to loan sharks and other high interest lenders. Removal of pacemaker and other costs associated with removal of medical equipment prior to cremation.

How can we improve the process for identifying whether someone is responsible for the funeral and should receive the funeral payment?

How can we improve the process for identifying whether someone is responsible for the funeral and should receive the funeral payment?
Considering other family members resources can put already difficult family relationships under great strain. The presumption should be that the person claiming has sole responsibility by simple declaration as to whether other family members would be able to contribute

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
Council Tax Reduction should be included in the family of qualifying benefits.

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

Please select one item
Yes
Ticked No
If no, please explain your answer and suggest an alternative length of time in which a claim could be made.
The Scottish Government should consider a 6 month application window, harmonising this payment with the application time for the Best Start Grant.

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

iews on the options for speeding up the grant
An interim payment could be made as an advance against entitlement so as to allow funeral arrangements to continue. That is consistent with other benefits, such as Universal Credit, Housing benefit etc where advance payments may be made

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
Yes Ticked 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 any other funds that you think are appropriate to deduct?
The Scottish Government should consider disregarding contributions from charities or employers up to a certain value e.g. disregarding the first £500.

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

Are there other funds that you think are appropriate to deduct?
No.

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
NHS and GPs. Local Authorities (in particular, Environment Services, Registration Services, Housing, Social Work, Advice Services, Customer Services, Revenues & Benefits Services, Schools and Community Safety Services). Police Scotland. Scottish Fire & Rescue Service. Third Sector agencies (e.g. CAB, Carer's Services and Advice Agencies). Credit Unions. DWP. Funeral Directors.

Are there any other points that you would like to raise in connection with the new Scottish Funeral Payment?

any other points that you would like to raise in connection with the new funeral payment
None.

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?
The last option above which would cover almost 45% of all children and whose households are in receipt of some kind of means-tested benefit (which by definition would indicate that income is low).

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
Please explain why.
The current system is well established and familiar and should be adopted.

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

Please select one item
Ticked Yes
No
If no, what exceptions would you make to this rule?
Yes, however exception should be considered if children are moved into a care situation i.e. kinship care, foster care or adoption to ease the transition.

Should we continue to use the same method as the SSMG to determine whether a child is the first child in a household?

Please select one item
Ticked Yes
No
Please explain why. If no, what alternative method should we use?
Consideration should be given to discretion where there is a significant age gap and the first child is over 16.

Do you agree that we should retain the requirement to obtain advice from a medical professional before making a maternity payment?

Please select one item
Ticked Yes
No
Please explain your answer.
Yes. Benefit entitlements bring with them responsibilities and this is an ideal opportunity to reinforce and/or educate people about the responsibilities they have to ensure the health of their children. Payment should only be made once advice has been obtained from a medical professional. Making payment without advice from a medical professional, advice which is universally available and free at the point of contact, would be remiss and, from a whole systems perspective, could have human and financial consequences that could be prevented.

Are there other points during the first five years of a child’s life when families face greater pressure than at the start of nursery (other than birth and the start of school)?

The BSG will pay low income families £250 to support them as their children begin early learning and childcare. We want to provide support when people need it, but the practicalities may be difficult as everyone’s situation is different and plans for nursery and childcare can change right up until the last minute. We would like to understand the pressures that families face, when they face them and how the payment can add most value, without becoming too complicated.
Additional costs that may be incurred at propose a payment when a child starts secondary school, this can be a significant

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?
As long as nursery places are available uniformly across Scotland then that is appropriate but should be reviewed with any changes to nursery provision. Consideration should also be given to a payment when children start secondary school as this is a time when additional costs are incurred.

Should the school payment be payable to all eligible children who begin primary school for the first time in Scotland, or should an upper age limit be included?

Please select one item
Ticked Payable to all eligible children who begin primary school for the first time in Scotland
An upper age limit be included

What are your views on our proposals in relation to the BSG application process?

views on the proposals in relation to the application process
We would welcome as much simplicity as possible with the application process.

What are your views on establishing an integrated application process for the BSG and Healthy Start?

What are your views on establishing an integrated application process for the BSG and Healthy Start?
If one application can accommodate both then this would simplify the process.

Would the option to receive items rather than a cash payment as part of the BSG have benefits?

Please select one item
Ticked Yes
No
Please explain why.
Only where there were clear benefits to the household of fulfilment via items.

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.
Advice and information services Health visitors GPs Midwives Hospitals Registrars Nurseries Schools Local Authority

Discretionary Housing Payment

Could the way that DHPs are currently used be improved?

Please select one item
Ticked Yes
No
Please explain why.
It would be beneficial to move away from DHP as a means of mitigating the under-occupancy charge. The current is not in-keeping with the principles of DHP, however it is acknowledged that this will not be possible until full migration to Universal Credit has taken place. The current system causes confusion and creates a two-tier system and one which does not often make best use of the funding available. Local authorities should be allowed the discretion to make the best use of the funding to those in most need. Arrangements since 2013/14 saw the increase of DHP funding in Perth & Kinross to 26 times that of 2012/13 and at present the fund is 10 times the 2012/13 amount. These arrangements are not easily managed via a discretionary scheme.

Could the administration of DHP applications be improved?

Please select one item
Ticked Yes
No
Please explain why.
Please see comments above.

Does the guidance for local authorities on DHPs need amending?

Please select one item
Yes
Ticked No
Please explain why.
Local policy and delivery is fundamental to DHP and allows Local Authorities to respond to local need. Some rural LA areas have limited housing options and those in private sector tenancies experiencing short-term but dire changes in circumstances may need some financial assistance to tide them over. This is best managed at a local level. DHP can be subject to criticism and can be accused of being a “postcode lottery” however the scheme is designed to assist individuals based on their individual circumstances and needs. Treating everyone the same across the country irrespective of the housing affordability and availability in their area may create a system that is more unequal. Treating people equally is often not achieved by treating people in the same way. Any changes to DHP should be done in consultation with Local Government.

Job Grant

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

What should the Scottish Government consider in developing the Job Grant?
A Job Grant scheme should be considered for all people of working-age. There has been a significant gap, in financial terms, for those who are going into work after a period of unemployment and applications are regularly received by the Scottish Welfare Fund, locally, by people caught in this situation. The administration of any free bus travel should not replicate or duplicate that provided through National Entitlement Cards and any system should ensure that the individual requires the free bus travel prior to issuing any further entitlement.

Universal Credit flexibilities

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

Please explain why.
The UK Government already has an Alternative Payment Arrangement system in place for those who require direct payment to any landlord, for payments to be split between household members and for payments to be made more frequently. Our experience locally, although very limited in volume, is that those who have requested an APA, for whatever reason, have been granted. The Scottish Government should bear this in mind when making any decisions about using the Scottish Universal Credit flexibilities. At the moment, only single people who are fit for work are eligible to claim UC in Perth & Kinross and anyone who has requested an APA has been accepted. The current group of individuals who are eligible to claim in this area are arguably the most difficult group for which an APA may be granted, given the eligibility criteria. This "favourable" trend may change in the future, however, based on current, local experience, the Scottish Government may wish to consider the financial and administrative burden of these flexibilities thoroughly and gather evidence of where the current system has fallen down in practice before any policy is decided.

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

Please select one item
Ticked Yes
No
Please explain why.
Where evidence suggests that this would be a sustainable option. This could prevent financial control from one partner over another.

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

Please select one item
Ticked automatic payments to individuals, with the option to choose a joint payment
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?
Payments should be weighted towards the 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
The Scottish Government should seek data from the DWP regarding APAs and the success rate before considering any variance from that which the UK Government has in place. The powers exist and may be used at a later date if there is evidence that this would be a good use of public money, when this option already exists for individuals. Any decision to change the current system should be made on an evidential basis and should take account of the risks to households, especially where children are present.

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?
Please see previous comments.

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?
It is an oversimplification to say that advice providers only provide advice to individuals, many advice agencies also deliver significant amounts of training to their communities, e.g. local authority welfare rights services across Scotland provide training to social services and other LA staff, also to third sector agencies in their area, and it is a part of their job to get involved with groups in their area to ensure they can support their service users with benefit related work. Through these systems, already in place, the Scottish government has the opportunity to reach people it would otherwise be difficult to reach. Experienced advisers will be able to provide holistic advice and assistance around three benefit systems, legacy benefits, Universal Credit system and the Scottish Social Security system. The landscape, in terms of benefits and entitlements, is becoming increasingly difficult to navigate and it is now and as we move forward that further investment is made in advice provision.

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?
The creation of new benefits to replace existing benefits impacts on advice providers in a number of different ways and should involve regular and meaningful communication between the Scottish Government/delivery aqency/cies and the advice sector. Training will be required and a timetable of the rollout. There is likely to be an increased demand on advice agencies while the new system beds in.

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?
Transfer of devolved benefits could drive improvements in the provision of publicly funded advice by a creating an advice recording system that applies to all advice agencies so that there is equity of recording, expectation and demonstration of value for money across the sector.

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

Please select one item
Ticked Yes
No
Please explain why.
Independent or impartial advice services are essential to the success of any devolved benefit system.

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?
Consultation with Local Authority Welfare Rights Teams, Rights Advice Scotland, local CABx, CAS and other advice providers.

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
Do you agree that we should base our CHP on the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman’s ‘Statement of Complaints Handling Principles’
The principles place the person at the centre of the process and gives clear guidance on how complaints should be dealt with.

How should a Scottish internal review process work?

How should a Scottish internal review process work?
Reconsideration of a decision should be an integral part of any robust review/appeals process and this should not have to be requested in addition to an appeal, however, nor should internal review replace the right to appeal. At the moment people may lose out on the opportunity to appeal a decision because of the overly bureaucratic system that is in place. The current system requires the claimant to request a mandatory reconsideration and if the claimant is unhappy they then have to send the mandatory reconsideration notice to HMCTS along with their letter of appeal. This can be a barrier and waste of time, people can lose their MRDN and may be unable to or decide not to challenge decisions as a result. We are in favour of resolving issues/disputes at the first point of contact or lowest possible level as this is the quickest, most cost-effective and least stressful (for the person) method of dealing with a dispute/issue, the caveat however, is that the claimants would retain the right of appeal should they remain unhappy with the outcome. An internal review or reconsideration of an original decision should be completed within 15 working days.

What would be a reasonable timescale for the review to be carried out?

What would be a reasonable timescale for the review to be carried out?
Please see comments above.

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

Please select one item
Ticked Yes
No
Please explain why.
Specialist, independent tribunals understand not only the benefit they are deciding on but also the need to address the relationship between the claimant’s situation and the benefit rules. We would argue that there is no alternative form of independent forum.

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?
Any appeals process must be independent of the agency/cies delivering the benefits . Most appeals succeed because the claimant obtains new or further evidence in support of their appeal and/or because the tribunal have taken the time to listen to what the claimant has to say. The appeals process ought to be straightforward and administrative hurdles kept to a minimum. Tribunals must be accessible, that means as local as possible and those exercising their right of appeal should be given practical supported to attend and travel costs should be met in advance of a hearing, so that the appellant can afford to attend. Finally, decisions of tribunals should be easily understood.

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?
Dignity and respect.

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
Six months maximum.

In order to ensure a transparent appeals process, what steps could be taken to ensure that those appealing fully understand and are kept informed at each stage of the appeals process?

In order to ensure a transparent appeals process, what steps could be taken to ensure that those appealing fully understand and are kept informed at each stage of the appeals process?
Access to advice and representation. Online information and written correspondence.

How could the existing appeals process be improved?

How could the existing appeals process be improved?
A duty representative should be available at each venue to ensure equality of arms.

Residency and cross-border issues

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

Please explain why
This is a difficult question to answer in a yes or no fashion and therefore perhaps the law surrounding this should not be absolute.

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
To introduce another test would be confusing for claimants and so may not simplify the system, however the Scottish Government may wish to revert to the previous residence test that applied to disability benefits and Carer's Allowance prior to the introduction of PIP as this was less detrimental to people from abroad e.g. refugees who are forced to relocate.

Are there other issues that the Scottish Government should take into account when it comes to residency rules?

other issues that the Scottish Government take into account when it comes to Residency rules
Please see above. In addition, the Scottish Government should consider those living in the Scottish Borders area and acknowledgement to the fact that communities can and do extend beyond borders.

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?
By data sharing. It is unlikely that fraud will ever be eliminated but there should be a recognition that the overwhelming majority of claimants are honest and claims should be accepted as such. Current data sharing between DWP, HMRC and Local Authorities could be expanded to include a Scottish Social Security Agency to pick up on those few cases of fraud that do arise. Entitlement should be promoted at all levels. Often people do not apply because of a negative stereotype of claimants.

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'
Advice and information should be readily available and data sharing with central Government are both key.

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.
Overpayments should be avoided or minimised in the first instance. There should be sufficient training, learning and development in place in order to minimise incorrect decisions. Communication with claimants should be in plain English and should be in terms that the layman can understand. The information should be readily available and more use should be made of informal methods of communication e.g. social media. Where an overpayment has occurred that can be recovered from the claimant this should be notified as soon as possible and the claimant should be signposted/directed to an advice service for assistance. No recovery should be made within the standard time limit for appealing the decision and should be suspended pending the outcome of any appeal (whether lodged within the standard time limit or out with but within any extended period for appeal, with good reason/cause). Furthermore, any overpayment that is to be recovered should be recovered from on-going benefit award, where possible, and should be set at a reasonable amount e.g. no more than 10% of any on-going award. This approach should minimise any financial hardship.

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
Please see comments above.

Fraud

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

Please select one item
Ticked Yes
No

If yes, should our existing counter-fraud strategy be adapted in any way?

Please select one item
Yes
Ticked No

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?
By making the best use of available information and data sharing.

Should the Scottish social security system adopt DWP’s existing code of practice for investigators?

Please select one item
Ticked Yes
No
Please explain your answer.
Individuals interviewed under caution should be allowed and encouraged to have a representative present.

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 are sufficient to allow investigation of a case.

What are your views on conducting interviews under caution?

What are your views on conducting interviews under caution?
The individual should be advised that they can have a representative with them during the interview.

What improvements could be made around conducting interviews under caution?

What improvements could be made around conducting interviews under caution?
Offering and encouraging representation during the interview.

Should the Scottish Government retain the same list of offences which people can be found guilty of in terms of social security fraud?

Please select one item
Yes
Ticked No
Please explain your answer.
We would suggest that the following should be deemed as offences: Deliberate falsification of evidence, and Omission of declaration in order to gain benefit.

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

Please select one item
Ticked Yes
No

Safeguarding your information

Should the existing Scottish Government approach to Identity Management and Privacy Principles be adopted for use in our social security system?

Please select one item
Ticked Yes
No
Please explain your answer.
The Scottish Government's approach to Identity Management and Privacy Principles should be adopted for use in the Social Security system. A proportionate and transparent approach is welcomed to allow public sector bodies the opportunity to share the minimum information required to provide services and benefits to the right person at the earliest opportunity. This is a low risk, common-sense approach which is streamlined and makes the best use of existing information and resources. This should also improve the customer experience by minimising the need for duplication and replication and reducing the burden from people to provide the same information to different agencies, whilst preserving privacy and confidentiality.

If yes, should our existing Identity Management and Privacy Principles be adapted in any way?

Please select one item
Ticked Yes
No
Please explain how.
Data sharing between devolved and reserved benefits.

Who do you consider should be consulted in regard to the Privacy Impact Assessment and what form should this take?

Who do you consider should be consulted in regard to the Privacy Impact Assessment and what form should this take
All stakeholders should be consulted; public sector organisations and users of the Social Security system.

What are your views on privacy issues that may affect the new agency?

What are your views on privacy issues that may affect the new Agency?
Data sharing guidance would need to be clear and there would need to be regular checks and governance in place.

Do you perceive any risks to the individual? What solutions might be considered to mitigate against these?

What solutions might be considered to mitigate against these?
Data sharing guidance would need to be clear and there would need to be regular checks and governance in place.

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
Please explain your answer.
We would support this approach as long as only minimal information was shared. Steps taken to simplify application processes are welcomed as long as the correct controls and governance is in place.

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
Please explain your answer.
Data sharing would be the best use of public money and would be the most efficient and effective administration of devolved benefits. Safeguards should be in place to ensure that information is as up-to-date as possible.

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?
Yes, the option to complete social security claims and applications online is welcomed. The caveat is that this should be one option of many. The use of technology is fundamental to an affordable and effective system and those who have the means and ability to use online facilities should be encouraged and be given the opportunity to access social security via this means.

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
This approach is welcomed so long as there is regular audit and regulation so that the security and accuracy of the information cannot be compromised. Provision of electronic access is commonplace in today's society amongst private sector services e.g. banking services. Public sector agencies should be encouraged to move forward and to develop how they communicate with those engaging with their services in the most affordable and convenient ways. People should also be given the opportunity to upskill, where this is possible, to use these methods. From a whole systems point of view this could be the best use of resources, as it is quicker and more affordable. It reduces barriers and allows users access to their information at a time and place that is most convenient for them. From an administrative point of view, this could prevent or reduce overpayment and underpayment of benefit, thereby improving accuracy and preventing challenge and complaints. A further step towards "getting it right first time/at the earliest opportunity".

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
Prior to 2011 UK welfare benefits were uprated annually in line with the retail price index (RPI). As part of the UK Government welfare reform agenda the annual increase was changed in line with the consumer price index (CPI). The Scottish Government should consider returning to RPI as the measure for uprating devolved benefits. Consideration should also be given to setting a minimum percentage increase of 1% or inflation whichever is higher. People with disabilities and their carers would therefore experience even a small increase at times of zero inflation.