The Disability Assistance for Older People (Scotland) Regulations 2024: scrutiny report

The Scottish Commission on Social Security's scrutiny report on the draft Disability Assistance for Older People (Scotland) Regulations 2024

2. Aims of Pension Age Disability Payment

Attendance Allowance (AA) was originally introduced in 1971 as a benefit for severely disabled people who required attention or supervision from another person.1The National Insurance (Old Persons’ and Widows’ Pension and Attendance Allowance) Act 1970, section 4 AA was intended as a contribution to such costs rather than meeting them in full.2House of Commons debate, 10 July 1970; In 1992 AA for people of working age was replaced by Disability Living Allowance, which also amalgamated both AA and the previously separate Mobility Allowance into one benefit.3Mobility Allowance was introduced in 1975 but was not payable to people over pension age (((Social Security Pensions Act 1975 ( section 22, Social Security Pension Act 1975). Disability Living Allowance consisted of a care and a mobility component (((Social Security Contributions and Benefits Act 1992 ( sections 71-76 Social Security Contributions and Benefits Act 1992); Attendance Allowance was also revised in 1992. Benefits for people below pension age tend to be seen as a contribution towards the additional costs experienced by disabled people, whereas AA has been focussed on needs for ‘personal care’, raising questions about the balance between cash payments and care services.4Reference to support with care needs has also generated debate in previous years about the balance between cash benefits and social care services, e.g. whether local authorities should take responsibility for Attendance Allowance (see Kennedy, S. et al (2016) The future of Attendance Allowance, House of Commons Library briefing paper 7729 (

Following questions from SCoSS, officials noted that “the aim and underlying policy intent of Pension Age Disability Payment (PADP) is to provide assistance to help mitigate additional costs incurred by an individual that is over the State Pension age as a result of having a long-term disability or health condition. PADP is awarded to help with extra costs if a person has a disability severe enough that they need someone to help look after them.” This aligns with the stated aim of AA.

Given its history and the different time and context in which it was designed, AA and its aims and language sit uneasily alongside the Scottish social security principles and Charter expectations of a system based on dignity, fairness and respect.5Our Charter  SCoSS considers that, in reflecting AA, the aims of PADP appear to be descriptive rather than linking to the outcomes that PADP could be expected to achieve for older disabled people. Having a greater outcomes focus could facilitate improved monitoring and evaluation.

Recommendation 1: We accept that during case transfer there is a rationale for aligning the aims of Pension Age Disability Payment with Attendance Allowance, but in the longer term the Scottish Government should review Pension Age Disability Payment’s aims for consistency with the social security principles.

Initial consultation and position papers on the benefit had suggested the benefit would be called Disability Assistance for Older People.11Scottish Government Position Paper Mobility Component for Disability Assistance for Older People (DAOP)

In evidence to the SCoSS Board in August 2023, officials noted that the name, along with Social Security Scotland’s other disability benefits, had been the subject of significant research with stakeholders. Subsequently, the name has changed to ensure consistency, through the use of “Disability Payment”, and to include reference to the age criteria i.e. “pension age”.

The name Attendance Allowance has caused some confusion as it implies that the payment might be for the carer of the individual (who may ‘attend’ to them) and this change of approach is, therefore, welcome.

Age Scotland suggested that while Pension Age Disability Payment was some improvement, many older people do not identify themselves as disabled (for example someone who is experiencing cancer, even though this falls within the definition of disability under the Equality Act 2010)12,than%20a%20non%2Ddisabled%20persond%20person – and as such this may mean that they may be put off applying. One participant in SCoSS’s stakeholder engagement events noted that “Pension Age Independence Payment” may be a better name.

SCoSS believes, however, that the name Pension Age Disability Payment is more likely to improve take-up amongst older disabled people whilst remaining consistent with Social Security Scotland’s other benefits.

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