Disability Assistance for Children and Young People (Scotland) Regulations 2020: scrutiny report

The Scottish Commission on Social Security's scrutiny report on the draft Disability Assistance for Children and Young People (Scotland) Regulations 2020 with recommendations for the Scottish Government.

Interface with UK system

The Scottish Government and the DWP need to work effectively together to ensure the safe and secure transition from DLA to CDP, and to ensure people do not lose out as a result of having related entitlements administered by separate agencies. The need for a good working relationship becomes ever more important as delivery of Scottish social security progresses from one-off grants to high-volume, regular payments.

Understanding how related entitlements interact and where processes
need to join up will help ensure that disabled children can access their
full entitlement. For example:

  • Social Security Scotland needs to be able to check whether a child gets DLA to avoid delays in processing applications for CDP.
  • When a CDP award starts, stops or changes, Scottish systems need to share that information with DWP and with HMRC to avoid families missing out on the disabled child element with Universal Credit or Child Tax Credit.
  • Staff in Social Security Scotland and in the DWP need to be equipped to give the right advice. Wrong official advice is a
    major reason why people claim the wrong benefit or claim at the wrong time.
  • When disabled children come to live in Scotland from elsewhere
    in the UK, or move away from Scotland, systems need to avoid gaps in entitlement. Diverging rules between CDP and DLA may make transferring between the two more complex for some children. The clearest example of this is in relation to the more generous entitlement in Scotland for children with a terminal illness.

Bridging the gap requires, for example, IT systems to be ready in time, staff to be trained across agencies, UK benefit regulations to be in place and guidance developed. While the UK benefits system has long been administered by more than just the DWP, the creation of a separate benefit system in Scotland brings new challenges that are not always easy to foresee.

Observation 2: The Commission believes that there would be value in seeking wider views to help develop understanding of the potential consequences of diverging systems between Scotland and the rest of the UK when it comes to benefit transfers and beyond.

The draft regulations contain provisions for people moving into or out of Scotland from the rest of the UK. A child who moves from Scotland to elsewhere in the UK will continue to receive CDP for 13 weeks. As drafted, the regulations provide that a child under age 18 who moves to Scotland will continue to receive DLA for 13 weeks. However, officials have told the Commission that this latter provision is not within devolved competence and will be amended. To join up UK and Scottish systems would then need some reciprocal arrangement with the DWP.

We also note two technical issues with the regulations relevant to interfaces with the UK system:

  • To make sure that carers looking after a disabled child can still get carer’s allowance, the Scottish Government is amending the carer’s allowance provisions to include CDP as a qualifying benefit.52 As drafted, this amendment (regulation 43) widens the gateway so that either component at any level of CDP is sufficient. For DLA, only middle or higher rate of the care component counts. We presume the widened gateway to be unintentional.
  • Regulations provide for CDP to continue for 13 weeks when a child moves to live elsewhere in the UK (regulation 41). It is not clear when this period begins. It applies when a child who was ‘ordinarily resident’ in Scotland becomes ordinarily resident elsewhere in the UK. If a family moves home permanently, then clearly they have changed where they are ordinarily resident. But there will be other situations where the dividing line is far less clear. For example, if a child who has been living with one parent goes to stay with another parent outside Scotland, at what point does an extended visit become a change in ordinary residence? There is no regulation that provides for a temporary absence from Scotland where the absence is within the UK. Such a provision could provide some certainty that for a specified period of time, a temporary absence from Scotland will not mean a change of ordinary residence.

Recommendation 26: The Scottish Government should attend to the technical issues noted:

  • To amend regulation 43 to correctly make middle or higher rate care component of CDP the qualifying benefit for carer’s allowance.
  • To clarify the difference between a temporary absence from Scotland and a move elsewhere in the UK that changes ordinary residence, for example by considering adding to regulations a temporary absence from Scotland provision for absences within the UK.
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