- Document Cover
- Summary of recommendations and observations
- Executive summary
- 1. Introduction
- 2. Aims of Pension Age Disability Payment
- 3. Take-up
- 4. Policy changes from Attendance Allowance
- 5. Mobility
- 6. Renal dialysis
- 7. Equality issues
- 8. Future changes
- 9. Regulations: areas for clarification
- 10. Approach to scrutiny
- Annexe A: Stakeholder engagement
- Annexe B: Scrutiny timeline
- Annexe C: About the Scottish Commission on Social Security
The draft regulations follow the Attendance Allowance (AA) rules in excluding mobility needs. There has been an upper age limit on benefits for mobility since Mobility Allowance was introduced in 1976. This has been justified by successive governments on grounds of cost and prioritising people of working age who are considered to have lower incomes due to having less opportunity to earn and save compared to those who claim in later life.1Hancock, R. et al (2012) ‘Attendance Allowance and Disability Living Allowance claimants in the older population: is there a difference in their economic circumstances?’ Journal of Poverty and Social Justice, 20(2) 193-209 However, some research has cast doubt on the assumption that Disability Living Allowance claimants have lower incomes than those on AA.2A Blue Badge can also be accessed via a local authority assessment of a person’s ability to walk.
Claimants below state pension age who receive the mobility component can also be eligible for ‘passported’ help such as a car on lease, powered wheelchairs and mobility scooters through the Motability scheme; they may also be eligible for a discount on vehicle excise duty, and automatic entitlement to a Blue Badge.3A Blue Badge can also be accessed via a local authority assessment of a person’s ability to walk. Stakeholders responding to SCoSS’s call for evidence noted the impact of older disabled people being ineligible for the mobility component because of these additional ‘passports’.
Some responses to the Scottish Government’s 2019 consultation on disability assistance suggested a mobility component would bring disability assistance for older people in line with other forms of disability assistance in Scotland and should be considered.4Disability assistance in Scotland: analysis of consultation responses – (www.gov.scot)
Age Scotland have argued that its inclusion would help to reduce the pressure on other services (as a “preventative spend”) as well as address social challenges experienced by disabled people over pension age.
“If the Scottish Government is serious about promoting healthy ageing, then providing support with mobility needs which would allow older people to continue to get out and about would be extremely effective…. Allowing people an easier way of getting out to see family and friends and participate in social activities and clubs will help to tackle social isolation and loneliness.”5Age Scotland: “Pension Age Disability Payment – the case for including a mobility component”, p. 4
DACBEAG’s advice to the Scottish Government on PADP agreed that “the introduction of a mobility component should be carefully considered by the Scottish Government. Mobility issues are just as relevant to people over pension age as to those below it.”6Disability and Carer Benefits Expert Advisory Group – pension age disability payment: advice (www.gov.scot)
Officials have noted, in their responses to questions by SCoSS, that the potential introduction of a mobility component to PADP has been carefully considered as part of the process of policy development. In line with the existing AA rules, however, the Scottish Government does not plan to include a mobility component within PADP, citing financial challenges:
“Scottish Ministers have concluded that it is not feasible to include a mobility component within the foreseeable future. In February 2020, the Scottish Government estimated that the introduction of a mobility component could cost an additional £580 million annually…. Therefore, given the highly challenging fiscal environment, Scottish Ministers are not currently in a position to consider the introduction of a mobility component.”7Draft Disability Assistance for Older People (Scotland) Regulations 2024: Draft Equality Impact Assessment (www.gov.scot)
The Scottish Government’s response to the 2019 consultation on disability assistance also stated that it would be unfair to introduce a mobility component as “it would mean that some disabled people in Scotland already in receipt of AA would not be eligible for the mobility component until their case transfers from DWP to Social Security Scotland, whilst other people in Scotland claiming (PADP) may be eligible.” The Scottish Government said that if they did introduce a mobility component for older disabled people, the DWP may not pay reserved premiums or benefits associated with this.8Disability assistance in Scotland: response to consultation – (www.gov.scot)
On the face of it, the differential treatment of older disabled people under AA, which is being carried over into PADP, has been considered by some commentators as potential age discrimination.9See Kennedy, S. (2021) Social security benefits for older people with mobility needs. House of Commons Library paper SN07160 (parliament.uk). Whether discrimination has taken place is a matter for the courts; cases taken under DLA and AA legislation have found that such differential treatment by the Department for Work and Pensions was justified10For example to prioritise those of working age and to those disabled earlier in life for whom disability is more financially disruptive in terms of lost opportunities to work ad save: see CDLA/1450/2008; R(DLA) 1/09;  UKUT 37 (AAC); CA/905/2009;  UKUT 257 (AAC), though also note some evidence querying this assumption: Hancock, R. et al (2012) ‘Attendance Allowance and Disability Living Allowance claimants in the older population: is there a difference in their economic circumstances?’ Journal of Poverty and Social Justice, 20(2) 193-209.. However, the Scottish Government and Social Security Scotland have a different framework and vision for social security, and operate social security under a different set of principles and human rights, which is a different context for considering justifications.
Whilst SCoSS understands the rationale for not including a mobility component during the case transfer process, the approach to social security in Scotland, and the introduction of PADP, presents an opportunity to re-consider the justifications inherited from AA. In the context of social security and human rights principles (e.g. principle (b)), and the social security principle of continuous improvement in ways in which put the needs of claimants first and to advance equality and non-discrimination (principle (g)), further consideration of mobility needs of older people could take place following case transfer. There is also a trade-off with principle (h) (value for money).
The Scottish Government has highlighted that people reaching State Pension age are eligible for a variety of different benefits and PADP will become part of that overall system. Alongside this, the Scottish Government has stated that a companion bus pass will be made available for those receiving PADP, free personal care is available for all individuals that have been determined to need it by an assessment from their local authority and for individuals that have been seen by a physiotherapist or occupational therapist, walking aids and other equipment can be supplied to aid with their mobility needs.11Scottish Government response to SCoSS question (response received 7 September 2023)
Stakeholders indicated that further options should be considered to mitigate the decision not to extend the mobility component to PADP, for example:
- Extending eligibility to Motability for a smaller group of older disabled people (e.g. such as those with a terminal illness) or pay a lower amount than the higher rate mobility component12Mobility and Access Committee for Scotland response to SCoSS call for evidence, September 2023
- Enabling a loan for a Motability car to be accessed using a wider range of income than the mobility component
- Enabling a broader range of transport options to be accessed e.g. taxi schemes13Echoing issues raised in the Social Security Advisory Committee report on the mobility needs of disabled people: The use of public funds in supporting the mobility needs of disabled people (www.gov.uk).
Recommendation 4: Given concerns about the mobility component and other passported support not being payable to individuals who claim disability assistance over state pension age, the Scottish Government should work with stakeholder organisations to consider other forms of transport assistance which could be available to older disabled people with mobility needs, within or outside the Scottish social security system.