NAWRA has received a letter from David Rutley, Minister for Welfare Delivery responding to our concerns about the Help to Claim service – in particular, the lack of face-to-face support in the service and the general lack of support for people needing advice given the ramping up of ‘Voluntary move to UC’.
The Minister says –
‘I thought it may be helpful to make clear Help to Claim is designed to be accessed after someone has decided to apply for Universal Credit (UC). It is not intended to help someone decide whether UC is right for them.’
He also reiterates the DWP’s assertion that jobcentre/DWP staff do not advise people to claim UC – apparently ‘independent welfare advice is available’ but the Minister has not responded to the point that funding is needed for this.
NAWRA has responded asking –
- Does the government plan to provide funding to increase advice provision, particularly face to face?
- What safeguards does the DWP have in place, or will be putting in place, to ensure that no person is directed to claim universal credit without having an opportunity to receive a full benefit check and be advised of their options and the implications of those options?
- Can you please clarify what the Department is doing to achieve its objective ‘to ensure the right information is available to claimants in order to support them in making an informed decision about whether a voluntary move to universal credit is right for them’?
Read our letter in full
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.”
The Equality and Diversity Forum have launched an online handbook to help advisers, and advice services more widely, to identify and challenge potential discrimination within the benefits system.
The handbook includes a range of tools and practical help to make it easier for advisers to recognise discrimination issues and to help services to build equality rights into advice delivery. It is an essential resource for everyone working in welfare rights.
Currently in beta form, the handbook can be accessed and downloaded at www.edf.org.uk/practicalequality. The full version will be released within the next few weeks.
NAWRA is a member of the Scottish Campaign on Welfare Reform (SCoWR).
Ahead of further Stage 2 consideration of amendments to the Social Security (Scotland) Bill on 22 February 2018, SCoWR produced a further briefing note for MSPs. This note focuses on amendments in Part 2, Chapter 2 onwards.