Summary of Recommendations and Observations
The making of substantively similar amendments to the SCP and DACYP Regulations is one of a number of scenarios in which section 97(1) of the 2018 Act creates what can appear to be an illogical divide between the parts of a set of draft Regulations that fall within and outside SCoSS’s pre-legislative scrutiny function. There may be something to consider when primary social security legislation is next considered.
Scottish Government is invited to consider how it can clarify who is meant by the ‘individual’ and ‘the person’ as they appear in Social Security Regulations.
Scottish Government should amend SCP Regulations 2020, 19A(1) to refer to suspension of payment rather than entitlement.
Where there is a failure to provide information which is only needed to decide a possible increase in entitlement, the existing award should not be suspended.
Scottish Government is invited to reconsider the minimum statutory time of 14 days for response to requests for information pertinent to ongoing eligibility, with a view to extending it to 28 days, and give reasons for retaining 14 days should that be its conclusion.
SCoSS notes the particular importance of inclusive communication, advocacy and supported decision making in ensuring people are able to respond to a request for information material to their entitlement and understand why their award may be suspended, or has been suspended, the steps required to avoid or end the suspension, their right to review a decision to suspend and the protection available in cases of financial hardship (including the implications of invoking this protection).
Scottish Government should amend SCP Regulation 19C(2) to stipulate that the individual must have a permanent record of the information referred to in Regulation 19C(1) without specifying the form that must take.
Scottish Government should consider amending draft Regulation 3, so that a right to advocacy, similar to that conferred by section 10 of the 2018 Act, attaches to the suspension of SCP.
SCoSS invites Scottish Government to explain what actions it is planning to identify and safeguard individuals who face difficulty engaging in the suspension progress and to consider whether this needs to be further enhanced.
Scottish Government should monitor the impact of the duty to have regard to financial circumstances before suspending payment of SCP to determine whether it in fact encourages claimants to engage with Social Security Scotland and whether it could result in avoidable overpayments.
Scottish Government should clarify the implications of suspension for passported entitlements (whether devolved or reserved) at the earliest opportunity. In doing so, it should consider whether there are scenarios in which it should be possible to complete the qualifying period for Young Carer Grant by providing care to someone whose CDP has been suspended.
Scottish Government should confirm at an early stage how it will resolve disputes between persons with parental responsibility regarding the suspension of social security assistance, and include this in published guidance.
Scottish Government should further amend SCP Regulation 19B to include a requirement that the outcome of a review and the next steps, if the person is dissatisfied with the outcome, are communicated to the person requesting a review.
SCoSS invites Scottish Government to explain the rationale for the proposed 31 day period for consideration of a request for review of a decision to suspend payment. In particular, why this is longer than the 16 working days normally allowed for re-determination of entitlement to social security assistance.