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Scottish Social Security Bill passed

26 April 2018

The Social Security (Scotland) Bill, allowing the Scottish Government to make its first social security payments later this year, has been passed by Parliament.

Social Security (Scotland) Bill as passed

Social Security Scotland, the new agency, will be responsible for the delivery of 11 devolved benefits to 1.4 million people a year, worth around £3.3 billion.

Scotland will be responsible for:

  • Personal Independence Payments
  • Carer's Allowance
  • Attendance Allowance
  • Disability Living Allowance
  • Winter Fuel Payments
  • Cold Weather Payments
  • Severe Disablement Allowance
  • Industrial Injuries Disability Benefits
  • Funeral Expenses Payments (to be replaced by Funeral Expense Assistance)
  • Sure Start Maternity Grant (to be replaced by Best Start Grant)
  • Discretionary Housing Payments

The Bill allows for non-private medical assessments, but Disability Rights UK will be watching out for forthcoming regulations with interest, to see what this actually means.

But generally, the new Act stands as an important benchmark for the flawed system in England and Wales. It is to be hoped that some of its principles and procedures are exported south of the Scottish border.  

Key aspects of the Bill

  • It sees social security as a human right and essential to the realisation of other human rights

  • It establishes respect for the dignity of individuals as at the heart of the Scottish social security system

  • It seeks to promote take up of benefits, including inclusive and accessible information as well as access to independent advice and advocacy

  • All proposed legislation to be scrutinised by a Scottish Commission

  • Creation of a charter of Scottish social security principles, which will be subject to review and involve consultation with a representative proportion of persons who have a physical or mental impairment, including those on:

disability living allowance (sections 71 to 76 of the Social Security Contributions and Benefits Act 1992)

personal independence payment

severe disablement allowance

attendance allowance

industrial injuries benefits

Medical assessments

  • Claimants may not be required, to undergo benefit medical assessments by anyone who is not acting in the course of employment by a public body – this appears to be intended to be a restriction on private-sector involvement in assessments – but we would need to see future regulations on this

  • Medical assessment should not be required unless that is the only practicable way to obtain the information needed to determine what assistance the individual is eligible to be given

  • Scottish Ministers should take into consideration any preferences an individual has expressed to them about where and how any assessment is carried out

Carers

  • The bill contains proposals for a Carer’s Allowance Supplement

Universal Credit

  • Universal Credit payable in respect of Scottish joint claimants is to be split between the couple in such proportion as the Scottish Ministers consider appropriate, unless the joint claimants elect to nominate a single bank or other account into which that benefit is to be paid
For further information on welfare rights, education issues and social care you will find our factsheets/guides here or for more detailed information you can order a copy of the Disability Rights Handbook from our shop