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

4. Change of circumstances during case transfer

Stakeholders have informed us that, during the case transfer of disability benefits from DWP to Social Security Scotland, reporting a change of circumstances is one of the significant sources of confusion for people, an area where things tend to go wrong and where delays are often experienced.

“…many have found the process difficult, overwhelming, confusing, and stressful in terms of understanding what they had to do and how this would impact them financially (including the potential impact on other benefits).”1Age Scotland response to SCoSS call for evidence, received 24 May 2024

“Claimants in Scotland are generally unclear about who has responsibility for the administration of disability benefits in Scotland and where we are in the process of the devolution of these… We have seen a small number of clients who were incorrectly advised that changes in circumstances should be reported to Social Security Scotland rather than the DWP.”2ENABLE response to SCoSS call for evidence, received 21 May 2024

Whilst recognising that issues in reporting changes of circumstances affect clients across the social security system, and the Scottish Government’s attempts to clarify the reporting process for clients3For instance, the Disability Assistance (Miscellaneous Amendments) (Scotland) Regulations 2023 made changes to clarify that relevant changes of circumstance will continue to be reported to the Department for Work and Pensions after a case has been selected for transfer until the transfer determination is made and the ADP award begins., the proposed Scottish Adult DLA rules regarding handling of a change of circumstance between DWP and Social Security Scotland suggest that particular focus on individual’s understanding of this process is required in this instance.

Anyone in the “working age cohort” who reported a change of circumstances to the DWP since the transfer of DLA to PIP and PIP to ADP began would have been automatically moved on to PIP or ADP. The fact that the “working age group” continues to receive DLA suggests that they have not reported a significant change in their circumstances since 2013. Until Scottish Adult DLA is introduced, draft regulation 10 ensures that individuals in the “working age group” who report a relevant change of circumstances will continue to transfer to ADP.4Scottish Adult DLA draft Equality Impact Assessment, March 2024

As the National Association of Welfare Rights Advisors note in their response to us.

“Prior to devolution, reporting a change to DWP triggered a transfer from DLA to PIP and necessarily involved a new assessment under the latter statutory scheme… If we are not mistaken, the draft version of Regulation 10 would potentially remove this dynamic for a cohort of claimants. This would be welcomed, but we note that this would potentially create a lottery of winners and losers based merely on quirks of circumstance: i.e. the date a medical change has happened, and the date that an administrative transfer takes place.”5National Association of Welfare Rights Advisers response to SCoSS call for evidence, received 29 May 2024

Communication with this group should provide as much certainty as possible about the process and how it will be handled.

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