Improving Disability Assistance in Scotland

NAWRA has submitted a detailed response to the recent consultation on ‘Improving Disability Assistance in Scotland’.

In time Disability Assistance will replace Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independence Payment and Attendance Allowance as per devolved powers covered in Section 31 of Social Security Act (Scotland) 2018.

The points covered in our submission include:

  • It is welcomed from Scottish Government that Disability Assistance will be paid to aged 18 but we would extend this further for children and extend to aged 19 or end of non-advanced education, especially if already in payment through PIP
  • 50 metre test for mobility
  • Minimum assessments and only when required and should always be people centered
  • Introduction of safeguarding
  • Increase in independent advice provision as in accordance with our social security bill and charter

Our NAWRA rep in Scotland, Craig Samuel, said:

“At NAWRA we welcome a more inclusive and generous approach by Scottish Government and, in line with our charter, an increase in advice provision and kindness. But we still have a lot of hurdles to overcome before we can relax.

 

We must get payments made as quickly as possible to ensure we give the best opportunity of success to people living in Scotland; to reduce poverty levels, reduce isolation and reduce adverse childhood experiences.

 

We must also keep open all our channels of dialogue especially when we are relying on a safe and secure transfer from London. On behalf of NAWRA, I look forward to participating in future developments and hearing from our Cabinet Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville as our key note speaker on 13th September when we have our annual Scottish conference in Edinburgh.”

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NAWRA condemns backdoor cuts to PIP

NAWRA issued the following press release on Friday 3rd March 2017:

The government has announced shock plans to restrict entitlement to the disability benefit, Personal Independence Payment (PIP).

The National Association of Welfare Rights Advisers (NAWRA) strongly refutes the claims made by government that two recent court decisions (1) in any way ‘extend’ or ‘broaden’ the meaning of the PIP regulations as claimed by government. In fact the judges simply seek to confirm the original policy intent of the DWP at the time the regulations were made. (2)

The government’s amendments seek to restrict the ability for people with mental health problems to receive help with getting around. Yet the government response to the ‘Personal Independence Payment: assessment thresholds and consultation’ of January 2012 (3) states in relation to Mobility Activity 1 (help needed with planning and following a journey) –

6.14 Concern was raised that the activity takes insufficient account of the impact of mental health conditions on mobility. We do not consider this the case. Individuals could potentially score in a number of descriptors in the activity if they cannot go outside to commence journeys because of their condition or need prompting or another person to accompany them to make a journey.

The government’s intention was clearly that Mobility Activity 1 would apply in its entirety to people with mental health problems and the judges have merely confirmed this position – there has been no change.

NAWRA asserts that the PIP amendments, both to the mobility descriptors and the daily living descriptors, amount to a substantial cut and a change from the original policy intention.

Chair of NAWRA, Alan Markey said –

‘It is not, as Theresa May has claimed, a change to ‘restore the original intention’ – it is a change to substantially move the goal posts. It is also a falsehood to say current claimants will not be affected – those currently in receipt of PIP are at risk of seeing a cut in their benefit when they are reassessed.’

Notes to editor –

  1. [2016] UKUT 531 (AAC) and [2016] UKUT 530 (AAC) – decisions of the Upper Tribunal of the Social Security Administrative Appeals Chamber
  2. This was clearly shown in the government responses to consultations at that time.
  3. As quoted at paragraph 33 of [2016] UKUT 531 (AAC)
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Welfare Reform and disability

NAWRA welcomes the recent announcement from the new Secretary of State for Work & Pensions, Stephen Crabb MP, to abandon further cuts to PIP. NAWRA hopes that his promises not to seek “alternative offsetting savings” in this Parliament will also be honoured.

Let us not forget however that according to recent research by the Centre for Welfare Reform, vulnerable and disabled citizens have been the “number one target for cuts”.  Indeed the present and former Governments have already presided over the single largest decimation of welfare support for disabled communities in modern history with further cuts expected to ESA and the worst cuts yet to come under Universal Credit.  Cognisant of the Government’s public sector duties, NAWRA calls on the Secretary of State to review these other planned cuts as a matter of priority in order to encourage a more inclusive society for all.

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SDP – get it while you can!

Patrick Hill writes:


“Since the introduction of Personal Independence Payment (PIP), there have been increasing reports from advisors across the UK that the Severe Disability Premium (SDP) has not been added to income based benefits such as: Employment Support Allowance, Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income Support, Pension Credit, Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support.  Nor have there been claims made to those income based benefits that might become payable due to entitlement to SDP.   When Universal Credit (UC) begins to take a firmer hold, and includes people with disabilities, an additional amount recognising a disability such as the SDP will not, unless the lobbying for it to do so succeeds, be part of a UC award.  

 

NAWRA are making members aware of these scenarios so that they will be better placed to seek out such cases in their own area. Where an SDP is in payment, and the claimant is migrated onto UC, transitional protection will apply.

 

As a reminder, here is a brief list of how a person would qualify for the SDP:

 

In the case of a single person the claimant should:

  • Receive a qualifying benefit (see below); and
  • Not live with any non-dependants*; and
  • No one receive Carers Allowance in respect of providing care to them.**

Qualifying benefits – middle or higher rate care component of Disability Living Allowance, any level of Attendance Allowance, daily living component of Personal Independence Payment at any rate.


In the case of a member of a couple:

  • Both receive a qualifying benefit  (or one receive a qualifying benefit and the other be registered  as severely sight impaired); and
  • Not live with any non-dependants*; and
  • No one receive Carers Allowance in respect of providing care to them.*

*Non dependants are people aged 18 or more years (but not qualifying young people still in education) living in the same household as the claimant.  However, these will not be treated as non dependants if:

  • They are joint tenants with the claimant (but not a close relative) and have been so since the tenancy was set up; or
  • Joint owners of the property (but not a close relative)in which they reside; or
  • They are liable to pay you rent (but are not a close relative);
  • You are liable to pay them rent (but are not a close relative); or
  • They are also recipients of one of the qualifyingbenefits described above.

**It is actual receipt of Carer’s Allowance that prevents SDP being included.  If, due to the overlapping benefits rules, the Carer’s Allowance is not being paid and there is only an underlying entitlement, then this will not prevent the SDP from being paid. It will also allow the Carer Premium to be awarded to the carer if they are on means-tested benefits.”


Patrick Hill is the NAWRA committee representative for North-West England.

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NAWRA’s submission to the PIP review

NAWRA has responded to the call for evidence in the first independent review of PIP assessment.  Read our response.

Thanks very much to all members who got in touch to tell us about their experience of advising PIP claimants.  We received over 100 responses, all of which helped inform our submission.  The evidence we have submitted is particularly strong as it comes from so many advisers from across the UK working in a wide variety of advice services.

Thanks are also due to Julie Henry of Durham Welfare Rights who did a great job of collating all the evidence and drafting the submission.

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