OPFS Survey - for Single Parents

Delivering Disability Assistance is the next big step in creating a social security system in Scotland. The Social Security Act (Scotland) 2018 enables the Scottish Government to provide for non-means tested ‘Disability Assistance’, equivalent to that currently provided for through UK disability benefits. This includes: Disability Living Allowance; Child Disability Living Allowance (Child DLA); Personal Independence Payment and Attendance Allowance.

Scottish Government has set out their proposed policy approach to new benefits in these areas and has issued a consultation - Social Security A Consultation on Disability Assistance in Scotland.

Single parents are more likely to have a disability than is average – around one in four (27 per cent) single parent households had a disabled adult, compared with around a fifth (21 per cent) of couple parent households in the UK. The difference is even more pronounced for children – 16 per cent of single parent households has at least one child with a disability, compared with 9 per cent of couple parent households.

The Scottish Government proposals on Disability ‘Assistance’, are therefore of great significance to single parent families.

OPFS is asking single parents about their views on the consultation to inform our response to the Scottish Government. You can complete as many or as few questions as are relevant to you.  This survey closes on 7th June 2019.
Renaming disability benefits

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* 1. Scottish Government intends to rename carers, disability and older people benefit to:

Disability Assistance for Children and Young People (to replace Disability Living Allowance for Children)
Disability Assistance for Working Age People (to replace Personal Independence Payment)
Disability Assistance for Older People (to replace Attendance Allowance)

Do you agree with these proposals?

Applying for disability benefits

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* 2. The consultation proposes that instead of online, individuals will have multiple ways to apply for these benefits.  This includes an online application channel, face to face and paper forms. 

Do you agree with this proposal?

The Scottish Government want to look at how benefit application forms could be redesigned.

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* 3. Do you have any comments on the current DWP application process and ways in which the forms could be improved?

Gathering Information

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* 4. The new Scottish Government agency, Social Security Scotland will gather supporting information to support applications rather than leaving this to individuals and families. They are exploring how other public agencies can provide supporting documentation.

Do you agree with this approach?

Making decisions about disability benefits

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* 5. Social Security Scotland will employ staff with three roles to make decisions about disability assistance for working age people. 

Case Managers will read the form, obtain supporting information and identify if there is sufficient information and then decide whether the person meets the criteria.  They will seek information and advice from suitably qualified Specialist Advisors when required.  Case Managers will also be responsible for deciding when an individual should be invited to attend a face to face assessment and consider the report provided by the Assessor, who carries out the face to face assessment of how an individual’s disability or condition affects their abilities.

Do you agree with this proposal?

Face to Face Assessments

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* 6. Assessors will carry out face to face assessment on how an individual’s disabilities or conditions impacts on them and provide a report to the Case Manager.  It is the intention that face to face assessments will be the exception rather than the rule.

Social Security Scotland will only able to decide that a face to face assessment is needed:
  • Where there are inconsistencies in the information provided.  This could be where the functionality described in the account is not consistent with the diagnosis or condition;
  • To fill a significant gap in the individual’s account of the condition and its impact, where this cannot be filled by other supporting information
In these two cases a face to face assessment may only be required to provide specific information to fill that gap.

Do you agree with the proposals for face to face assessments?

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* 7. Do you think claimants should have a right to take a representative with them to face-to-face interviews?

Disability Assistance for Older People and Disability Assistance for Children and Young People

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* 8. For Disability Assistance for Older People and Disability Assistance for Children and Young People it is the intention to make decisions only on existing supporting information and not through face to face assessments.

Do you agree with this proposal?

Disability Assistance Benefits because of special rules

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* 9. Anyone who receives any of the disability assistance benefits because of special rules i.e. they are terminally ill will continue to receive those benefits and there will be no review period.  There will be no qualifying period for the benefit e.g. current rules are expected to die within 6 months but instead all that will be needed is a verification from a medical practitioner that the person is terminally ill.

Do you agree with this proposal?

Supporting Information

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* 10. It is the intention that Case Managers will use existing information wherever possible to make decisions.  Where possible the Agency will assume responsibility for gathering the information unless the individual chooses to do so. 

Do you have any comments or ideas on what type of supporting information would be relevant?

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* 11. Do you agree with the suggestion that Social Security Scotland would assume responsibility for gathering information on your behalf unless you choose to do so?

Duration of Awards

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* 12. The Scottish Government aim to introduce longer term disability benefit awards.  They suggest the introduction of “rolling awards” recognises the needs of individuals in receipt of assistance.  This means they awards are allocated a review point rather than a set end point and payments will continue during the review period.  

Do you agree or disagree with proposal to have no set award durations but to set an award review date instead?

Award Review Date for a person with a condition unlikely to change

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* 13. The Scottish Government aim to adopt a person-centred approach and clear guidance will be given on duration of awards and appropriate award lengths.  For a person whose condition is unlikely to change guidance will recommend that an award review date is set between 5 and 10 years from the initial date of the award. 

Do you agree or disagree with proposal to set award review date 5-10 years in future for a person with a condition unlikely to change?

Redetermination and Appeals

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* 14. It is proposed that a request for a redetermination can be made within 31 calendar days.  (If a request is not made within this period, it can still be allowed at any point within a year if there is a good reason for it being late) 

Do you agree or disagree that individuals should have 31 calendar days to request a redetermination?

Timeline for Social Security Scotland to consider a redetermination

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* 15. Social Security Scotland will have between 40 and 60 days to consider a redetermination? 

Do you agree or disagree?

Timeline to Appeal to the First Tier Tribunal

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* 16. Individuals will then be entitled to appeal to the first-tier tribunal within 31 calendar days of being advised their redetermination is not successful.

Do you agree or disagree that individuals should have 31 calendar days to appeal to the First Tier Tribunal?

Short Term Assistance (STA)

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* 17. The Scottish Government has committed to providing short term assistance whilst a person is seeking a redetermination or appealing a decision to the First Tier Tribunal.  The proposals for this are that this will cover disability, carers and employment injury assistance.
  • It will be available if a continuing payment has been reduced or stopped and this is being challenged.
  • It will be available until the First Tier Tribunal has made a determination
  • Where a person is receiving an STA, the value will be the difference between the amount prior to the reduction and what it was reduced to.
  • It will only be available when a request for redetermination or appeal is made.
  • The Scottish Government also proposed that it will not be recoverable if the person’s appeal is unsuccessful.
Do you agree with these proposals?

Breaks in Disability Assistance

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* 18. The Scottish Government propose that where there are breaks in disability assistance, generally 28 days, that the benefit should cease.

Do you agree with this proposal?

Overpayments & Deductions

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* 19. Policy on overpayments for Disability Assistance will follow wider policy for Social Security Scotland. Where an overpayment is made as a result of Agency error it will not be pursued unless under exceptional circumstances.

Where it is made as a result of client error, Social Security Scotland may seek to recover the overpaid assistance, but in doing so will have regard to the 
individual’s financial and other circumstances they consider relevant.

Detailed policy for how deductions may be made is still under development.

Where recovery is sought, having taken into account financial and other
circumstances, consideration is being given to what rules if any, there should be around deductions from ongoing benefit payments.

They are considering:
  • whether the amounts that may be deducted from Disability Assistance should
  • be subject to minimum and maximum rates;
  • whether these should be fixed; and
  • whether there should be differentiation in the rate of deduction for different types of overpayment for example if due to fraud or error.
Do you agree or disagree with the proposals on overpayments and deductions?

Disability Assistance for Children and Young People (for children and young people aged 0-18)

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* 20. It is proposed that payment starts from the age of 3 months where children will be eligible for the care component.

Do you agree with this proposal?

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* 21. It is proposed that children will eligible for the low rate of mobility component from aged 5. 

Do you agree with this proposal?

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* 22. It is proposed that children will eligible for the high rate of mobility component from aged 3. 

Do you agree with this proposal?

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* 23. It is proposed that the upper age limit is raised from 16 to 18. 

Do you agree with this proposal?

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* 24. Children and young people must have had their condition or disability for at least 3 months and be expected to have them for at least 6 Months. If they are defined as terminally ill, they do not need to meet these qualifying periods.

Do you agree with this proposal?

Disability Assistance for Working Age People

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* 25. It is proposed that the criteria for awarding this will be a points-based system tested against a list of daily living and mobility activities.  They will be open and transparent about the criteria and how each activity is scored.

Do you agree with this proposal?

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* 26. Face to Face Assessments: In current face to face assessments, an assessor can make reference to “informal observations” about the individual they are assessing. The Scottish Government has received feedback from the Experience Panels that these kinds of informal observations can be used in a way to discredit or undermine the information in the person’s self-assessment. 

What type of observations in a face to face assessment do you believe are inappropriate?

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* 27. People were dissatisfied with the way in which current assessments are organised e.g. too far away, refusal of home assessments and where someone unavoidably missed their appointment having to start whole application again. Flexibility wasn’t available to single parents for example who are sole carers of their children.

The Scottish Government proposes that individuals are provided with choice and flexibility and home assessments where necessary.

In relation to an assessment, what are your views on acceptable distances to travel?

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* 28. How often do you think an individual should be able to reschedule or fail to attend an appointment?

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* 29. In relation to a missed assessment, do you have any comments on what should amount to exceptional circumstances?  e.g. a hospital admission, single parents who are unable to get childcare cover?

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* 30. Please leave your email address if you would like us to send you a copy of  our submission.

Thank you for completing the survey.  Your input will help inform OPFS  response to the Scottish Government's consultation.

One Parent Families Scotland
2 York Place
Edinburgh, EH1 3EP

Tel: 0131 556 3899 
Website: www.opfs.org.uk Email: info@opfs.org.uk

Registered at Edinburgh under number 094860. Scottish Charity Number: SC006403

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