The Carer’s Assistance (Carer Support Payment) (Scotland) Regulations 2023: scrutiny report

The Scottish Commission on Social Security's scrutiny report on the draft Carer’s Assistance (Carer Support Payment) (Scotland) Regulations 2023

5. Carer’s Allowance Supplement

The policy intention is that carers receiving CSP will be entitled to Carer’s Allowance Supplement in the same way as carers in Scotland receiving CA.

Carer’s Allowance Supplement was introduced in 2018 as an interim measure to increase CA to the rate of Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA). Carer’s Allowance Supplement is an additional payment of £270.50 (in 2023/24) made twice yearly to carers in Scotland who are in receipt of CA on a particular qualifying date. Carers in receipt of CA do not need to apply for Carer’s Allowance Supplement and payment is made automatically by Social Security Scotland. Subsequent uprating of Carer’s Allowance Supplement has taken CA and Carer’s Allowance Supplement together above the rate of JSA.

The Scottish Government has committed to paying Carer’s Allowance Supplement alongside regular payments of Carer Support Payment in future.1Scottish Carer’s Assistance consultation: However, they have confirmed to SCoSS that there are no plans to change how Carer’s Allowance Supplement is paid until after case transfer is complete.

The Scottish Government had initially intended to legislate for the supplement to be added to CSP through a set of amendment regulations under section 81(8) of the Social Security (Scotland) Act 2018 on the same timescales as the main CSP. This power is not subject to SCoSS scrutiny. However, at the time of writing, the Scottish Government are now considering the option of including these amendments in a schedule to the principal CSP regulations instead.

While SCoSS has not had the opportunity to scrutinise these proposed amendments, we do agree with the decision not to change Carer’s Allowance Supplement until after the transfer of CA cases to CSP is complete. A switch from paying a supplement twice a year to paying it alongside CSP every four weeks is not simply a change in how it is paid, it also requires a change to who qualifies for the supplement. To get the supplement now, a carer must be getting CA on a particular day – the ‘qualifying date’.

For example, a carer who was getting CA on 10 April 2023, would receive the lump sum supplement in June, while a carer whose CA ended on 9 April would get no supplement. In future, paying the supplement alongside CSP would presumably mean that when CSP starts or stops so does the supplement. We do not know whether it would have been feasible to design and implement the change sooner. However, there would have been winners and losers from the change, and no obvious way to avoid a two-tier system while case transfer was still underway. Moreover, redesigning the supplement does need careful consideration of the implications for carers particularly in relation to how the payment interacts with other UK and Scottish benefits and entitlements. Payment options could also have implications for the administration costs of delivery.

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