The Carer Assistance (Carer Support Payment) Amendment Regulations 2024: scrutiny report

The Scottish Commission on Social Security's scrutiny report on the draft Carer Assistance (Carer Support Payment) Amendment Regulations 2024

Backdating rules

To support the roll out, draft regulation 2(4) introduces additional provisions around ‘backdating’ which intend to allow carers to receive payments of CSP for periods before the date they make their application. In response to questions from SCoSS, Scottish Government officials noted that they “would expect this would affect full-time students eligible under CSP rules but not Carer’s Allowance rules in particular.”1 Scottish Government response to SCoSS question (response received 11 March 2024)

The draft regulations provide that carers who were not eligible for Carer’s Allowance because of the different rules on full time education and the past presence test will be able to backdate applications as far as 19 November 2023 (the first date at which CSP became available in Scotland in the Phase 1 pilot area) if they apply within 13 weeks of the benefit being available in their local authority area, or later if they have a good reason for not applying within the 13 weeks.

In response to questions from SCoSS, Scottish Government officials noted that around 53% of the caseload of Carer Support Payment applicants are expected to be living in areas in phase 4, the final phase, of the roll out and around 800 carers may require a backdated award as a result of their full time education status.2Scottish Government response to SCoSS question (response received 11 March 2024) While the Scottish Government has clarified that “the special backdating rules are therefore designed to mitigate the effects of the roll out”, SCoSS observes that this could cause significant challenges in processing.

Observation 1: A significant number of full-time student carers are expected to become eligible for Carer Support Payment in the final phase of the roll out. This will likely require Social Security Scotland to ensure resources are available to deal with a significant volume of backdating applications at this point in the process.

Stakeholders expressed concern that receipt of a lump sum of CSP could have a detrimental effect on entitlement to other benefits.

“Scottish Government must ensure any backdating payment will not impact existing entitlement for unpaid carers receiving support in any other part of the devolved or reserved social security system, in circumstances where they would be entitled to such support if receiving a regular payment of Carer Support Payment.” Carers Trust Scotland3Carers Trust Scotland response to SCoSS call for evidence, March 2024

In response to a question from SCoSS, the Scottish Government noted that backdated CSP awards would affect any Universal Credit a carer receives in the same way as an ongoing award.4Scottish Government response to SCoSS question (response received 11 March 2024) Backdating will, however, also give eligibility to passported entitlements and Carers Allowance Supplement.

SCoSS acknowledges the balance the Scottish Government must strike between fairness between carers who are in receipt of CSP in the earlier phases, those in receipt of Carer’s Allowance who will transfer to CSP and those who will be receiving support for the first time. In circumstances where a backdated CSP award would lead to an overpayment of Universal Credit, the Scottish Government notes that a carer will be better off overall.

On this basis, we support the proposed approach by the Scottish Government but note that carers will be advised to inform the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) where they receive Universal Credit (and this information is also provided to DWP by Social Security Scotland). We propose that this is both closely monitored to ensure carers do not experience detrimental impacts on their caring role and well communicated through carers organisations and further and higher education institutions.

Observation 2: The new backdating provisions will add complexity during the transitional period, particularly for carers aged 16 to 19. The Scottish Government and Social Security Scotland will need to work closely with the Department for Work and Pensions to consider how they can proactively monitor and solve any resulting issues caused by backdating during the transition period, with particular attention paid to exceptions in the 16-19 year old age category.

It is clear from feedback received from stakeholders that further reassurance of the impact of this backdating is required.

“The (backdating) process should be accessible and easy to navigate, recognising that young carers are time-poor due to their caring responsibilities, and that this backdate could be a lifeline payment to help ease the financial pressures of affording household necessities such as food and energy bills.” Scottish Funding Council5Scottish Funding Council response to SCoSS call for evidence, March 2024

Recommendation 2: The Scottish Government should produce a detailed communications plan outlining the impact of a claim for other benefits and the rules on backdating. This plan should aim to reach carers in education, people who may become entitled to Carer Support Payment in the future and existing Carer’s Allowance recipients who may be considering their future education options.

SCoSS welcomes the provisions also made in draft regulation 2(4) related to backdated awards for those who are eligible for Carer Support Payment but who were unable to apply for Carer’s Allowance as they did not meet rules around ‘past presence’.

There is a minor drafting error in Part 1A of Schedule 1, paragraph 2A, Table 1 which refers to 20 January 2024 as the “relevant date” for Argyll and Bute, Clackmannanshire, Dumfries and Galloway, East Dunbartonshire, East Lothian, East Renfrewshire, City of Edinburgh, Falkirk, Glasgow City, Highlands, Inverclyde, Midlothian, Orkney Islands, Renfrewshire, Scottish Borders, Shetland Islands, South Lanarkshire, Stirling, West Dunbartonshire or West Lothian. We assume that this should read 20 January 2025.

Recommendation 3: The Scottish Government should address a minor drafting error in Part 1A, of Schedule 1, paragraph 2A, Table 1 to clarify that the relevant dates that refers to 20 January 2024 for the purpose of backdating should refer to 20 January 2025.

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