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

9. Approach to scrutiny

The Minister for Social Security and Local Government referred draft regulations to SCoSS1 and a policy note2 on 3 March 2023. This contained several areas of the regulations which were provisional, most notably on earnings and education. We were given a deadline for reporting of 26 May 2023.

Following SCoSS’s April 2023 Board meeting, the Board decided to report by 8 June 2023 given that significant parts of the draft regulations were still provisional. This would allow SCoSS further time to undertake detailed stakeholder engagement when more detail was available. The Scottish Government was notified of the Board intention on 31 March 2023.

Updates to the draft regulations were received as follows:

  • On 31 March, a policy update3 and a revised version of draft regulations4 with finalised rules on the past presence test, changes to abatement rules, removal of advance applications and provisional regulations on education.
  • On 9 May 2023, a further revised version of the regulations with the earnings rules and some minor changes.
  • On 23 May 2023, a further revised version of the draft regulations with rules extending eligibility to a cohort of young people in non-advanced education in particular situations less likely to be dependent on parental support.
  • On 2 June 2023, a further version of the draft regulations with minor amendments made in the light of questions from SCoSS through the scrutiny process.

The provisional nature of both the initial set of draft regulations and the updated versions of draft regulations we received had direct implications for our approach to scrutiny. We delayed our written call for evidence until later in the scrutiny process once further information had been received and extended the publication date of our report as a result. On receipt of the earnings rules, we engaged with welfare rights advisers for their view on these provisions at short notice.

We received the final version of the education rules after our stakeholder engagement was complete and, therefore, we were not able to engage directly with stakeholders on the extension of eligibility to the additional cohort of 16 to 19-year-olds in non-advanced education.

Drafts of the Equality Impact Assessment, the Child Rights and Wellbeing Impact Assessment, the Fairer Scotland Duty Assessment, the Island Communities Impact Assessment and the Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment were received from the Scottish Government on 6 April 2023. In our stakeholder engagement, we were advised that communications is a key equality issue5Academic comment at SCoSS roundtable, 30 March 2023 hence we also welcome reference to communications and signposting in the impact assessments and look forward to seeing further detail on the Government’s communications strategy for CSP in due course.

We welcome the data gathered and considered in these impact assessments, and the acknowledgement that in some instances there is little direct data about CA recipients. The Equality Impact Assessment highlights where data on some protected characteristics are partial (e.g. pregnancy/maternity, marriage and civil partnership, religion and belief, sexual orientation, gender reassignment). This assessment refers to plans to gather data to fill these gaps, such as through new CSP applicants and engagement with carers’ organisations to understand carers’ experiences. While information from other research and data about carers is referenced, SCoSS notes that, in the interim, assumptions that the impacts of CSP on people with protected characteristics are either broadly positive, or are not considered negative, could be seen as provisional. Revised assessments may need to apply such data to assess whether the regulations meet the needs, and minimise any disadvantage, of people with one or more protected characteristic.6

Observation 3: SCoSS welcomes being sent a full set of draft impact assessments relating to the draft regulations. In the light of limited data on some groups with protected characteristics, SCoSS also welcomes plans to tackle data gaps.

To understand, and represent, the views of stakeholders in relation to the draft regulations, SCoSS also held two events with external stakeholders during the scrutiny period.

SCoSS would like to express its thanks to VOCAL and the National Carer Organisations for their work in supporting us to engage directly with carers during the scrutiny period. We would also like to thank all the organisations and individuals who responded to our call for evidence and the academics who joined our roundtable discussion on the draft regulations. The insights gained from each of these groups were invaluable and have informed this report.

We are grateful for the efforts made by officials to keep us appraised of developments throughout the scrutiny process and for their timely response to written questions.

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