The Disability Assistance (Scottish Adult Disability Living Allowance) Regulations 2024: scrutiny report

The Scottish Commission on Social Security's scrutiny report on the draft Disability Assistance (Scottish Adult Disability Living Allowance) Regulations 2024

2. Choice to remain consistent with Disability Living Allowance

Scottish Adult DLA is intended to be a closed benefit with no new application route and the draft regulations, largely, propose similar eligibility criteria to DLA.

“As part of the commitment to a safe and secure transfer, Scottish Ministers do not propose to make significant changes to the existing Disability Living Allowance eligibility criteria when introducing Scottish Adult Disability Living Allowance.”1Scottish Adult DLA draft Equality Impact Assessment, March 2024

SCoSS is clear, as we have stated in previous reports, that good operational delivery that gives people confidence in the continuity of their payments and can effectively administer new claims is critical. Changing the rules too much before the transfer is completed could risk undermining delivery with detrimental consequences for disabled people.

There are, however, a number of changes to Scottish Adult DLA, set out in more detail in section 3 of this report, which amend the approach – largely to bring certain Scottish Adult DLA rules into line with rules for other Scottish disability benefits e.g. applying the Scottish terminal illness rules.

While stakeholders agreed that the principle of retaining the DLA conditions of entitlement for Scottish Adult DLA was positive, some highlighted that the inconsistencies in approach between the UK and Scottish systems being applied in these circumstances risked the creation of a “two tiered” system, where some people in Scotland can stay on DLA while others only have the option of ADP with its different eligibility criteria.

“..the majority of people with MS in receipt of ADP, including new applicants, were assessed for disability assistance using eligibility criteria that were designed to reduce the financial burden… Scottish Ministers have repeatedly stated the main reason that they have not changed the eligibility criteria for ADP is that they didn’t want to create a two-tier system of disability assistance benefit in Scotland. With the introduction of Scottish Disability Living Allowance this is exactly what they are creating.”2MS Society Scotland response to SCoSS call for evidence, received 23 May 2024

This was further emphasised by Age Scotland who noted that whilst supportive of the approach taken to Scottish Adult DLA, a two tiered system would be created for those over pension age who would not be able to newly qualify for a mobility component if their mobility needs increase, but entitlement over pension age could be achieved for those in receipt of Scottish Adult DLA who transfer to Adult Disability Payment – see section 3.3.1. Age Scotland noted that “this further highlights the need for mobility support to be given to disabled people above state pension age”.3Age Scotland response to SCoSS call for evidence, received 24 May 2024 The issues around the creation of a mobility component are discussed more fully in SCoSS’s response to the Disability for Older People (Scotland) Regulations 2024.4Scottish Commission on Social Security – Scrutiny report – The Disability Assistance for Older People (Scotland) Regulations 2024

Both of these concerns emphasise the importance of clear, concise and accessible communication about why these decisions have been made, who they affect and what their consequences are in order to avoid confusion and doubt over the approach being taken. These issues are considered in further detail in section 5 of this report.

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