The Scottish Government is currently consulting on the draft regulations for the Adult Disability Payment. You can tell us what you think about the draft regulations and we’ll add this to our own consultation response. This is the name for the new Scottish benefit which will replace Personal Independence Payment (PIP) for disabled people of working age in Scotland beginning from spring 2022.
Starting from then new claims for the devolved Scottish benefit will be taken and existing PIP claims will also gradually be transferred from the DWP to the Scottish Social Security Agency.
There are a number of positive changes being made by the Scottish Government to both entitlement to, and administration of, the new benefit. There are also a number of areas where Inclusion Scotland has concerns. We look at the positive changes first.
1) All awards of Adult Disability Payment will be made on a “rolling” basis, with no set date for the award ending. In cases where it is unlikely that a client’s condition will improve there will be at least five years between “Light-Touch” reviews. Work is also going on to decide when indefinite awards for clients whose needs are very unlikely to ever change could be made.
2) There will be new Short-Term Assistance (STA) payments. This will mean that clients can continue to receive their previous payment amount until the end of any “re-determination” (reconsideration) or appeal challenging the decision to reduce or stop their award.
3) A new definition of terminal illness, removing the requirement that a person must reasonably be expected to die within 6 months and instead using the clinical judgement of doctors and registered nurses involved in the individual’s care.
4) A range of application channels which clients can select including online, paper applications and face to face – this replaces the current telephone and online PIP application system.
5) There will be no assessments like those carried out under the DWP. Instead, Social Security Scotland will use existing supporting information to make a determination (decision) about awarding Adult Disability Payment for the majority of clients.
“Consultations” will only be carried out where they are the only way to obtain the information needed to make a decision.
6) Consultations will be carried out by people who are ‘suitably qualified’ to do so and employed by Social Security Scotland. Wherever possible consultations will take place by phone or video call, meaning the majority of clients will not need to travel to unfamiliar places.
7) Clients with mental health conditions and learning disabilities will be able to discuss their needs with Agency staff who have an understanding of their condition or disability.
8) The Adult Disability Payment application form is being redesigned and tested by disabled people to ensure that people understand what is being asked of them and why. This is in response to criticism of the long, confusing, and repetitive PIP application form.
9) Before making a determination to award Adult Disability Payment the Social Security Agency will first try to gather as much supporting information as possible. Where possible use will be made of information which already exists such as GP records and social work reports.
10) People over retirement age will retain entitlement to the Adult Disability Payment’s Mobility component at the same rate as they were awarded before they reached retirement age.
Areas of concern:
i) The 50% Rule is being kept
Under the Adult Disability Payment regulations the 50% rule is to continue. This rule says that you must be impacted by your condition, to the extent set out in the descriptors (for example be unable to prepare and cook a meal or to get dressed) on at least half the days in every month.
Inclusion Scotland believe that this rule is unfair to disabled people with variable conditions such as epilepsy, ME and MS. That’s because it may be difficult for them to prove that their impairment affects them to that extent half the time or more. Yet because they can’t predict which days their condition will affect them it may be very difficult for them to work, make commitments, socialise or be active in their community.
ii) The 20 metre walking test is being kept
Under the proposed Adult Disability Payment regulations the 20 metre walking test is to continue. This states that if a disabled person can walk more than 20 metres, aided or unaided, then they do not get the points they need for the Enhanced Mobility component and would not qualify for a Motability vehicle either. This is the same walking test as used in assessing entitlement to Personal Independence Payment (PIP). The previous test under Disability Living Allowance was being unable to walk 50 metres.
Using the 20 metre walking test nearly half of those (47%) who had the Higher Rate Mobility component for DLA lost it when re-assessed for PIP. Inclusion Scotland does not believe that the test is fair to disabled people. We are concerned that many of those with severe mobility issues will continue to be denied the enhanced mobility rate for Adult Disability Payment and also access to leasing Motability vehicles.
iii) Award periods
Scottish Government says that awards of Adult Disability Payment for conditions/impairments that are unlikely to improve will be for either 5 or 10 years. However, these award lengths are not mentioned in the draft regulations. Inclusion Scotland are concerned that this would mean that they could be easily reduced in the future. We would instead like to see longer awards being a matter of law rather than something that a future government looking to save money could easily change.
iv) Terminal conditions
People with a terminal illness can get early and speedier entitlement to Adult Disability Payment and both the care and mobility components are paid at the top rate. The draft regulations say that before a condition can be treated as terminal the medical practitioner must refer to the guidance on terminal illness issued by the Chief Medical Officer.
Unlike regulations, guidance can easily be changed meaning that fewer, or more, people could be awarded entitlement under terminal illness rules without any debate in Parliament. The good intentions of the current Government are not enough if a future government could reduce the number of people entitled under the special, terminal illness, rules. Inclusion Scotland believes that more has to be done in the regulations to guarantee the rights of people with terminal illnesses.
The draft regulations say that anyone who has two years’ experience of health OR social care work is “qualified” to carry out an assessment for Adult Disability Payment.
Inclusion Scotland are concerned that someone with no health qualifications and who has only been employed in relatively unskilled social care work for 2 years could be used by the Social Security Agency to carry out assessments.
Under PIP disabled people who had a diagnosis from a consultant about their level of impairment found that it could be over-turned by an assessor with little or no knowledge of treating that condition. It is very worrying that under these proposals someone with no health qualifications whatsoever could now overturn doctors’ and consultants’ opinions.
The draft regulations say that overpayments of Adult Disability Payment can be recovered even if they are due to an official making a mistake (error) in awarding the benefit. Inclusion Scotland does not believe that the Social Security Agency should be able to take back money that they wrongly paid to someone due to their own mistake.
Anyone wanting more information can find the whole consultation document.