Saturday, January 16, 2021

Letters: There Should Be No Illusion Over Devolved Welfare Powers

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In response to: https://welfareweekly.com/welfare-devolved-local-authorities-says-charity/

The benefits that are being devolved to Scotland are:

DLA, PIP, AA, Carers Allowance and Industrial Injuries Benefit (and some control over Discretionary Housing Payments and the frequency and receipt of the Housing Benefit/Allowance element of Universal Credit).

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Benefits that are not being devolved include Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA), Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), Housing Benefit and Universal Credit.

This means that the Scottish Parliament will have no control, or say, over the Work Capability Assessment regime, Mandatory Reconsiderations, the Conditionality regime or Benefit Sanctions. All rather important to disabled people.

Nor is it clear how any new devolved benefits (e.g. disability benefits or carers benefits) which the Scottish Parliament could create, or change to mitigate the impact of welfare reforms, will interact with the Means Tested Benefits system; i.e. if the Scottish Parliament decided to establish a new, fairer assessment regime to replace the PIP one and managed to stop tens of thousands of disabled people losing their benefits would they receive the disability premiums, disregards and protection from non-dependent deductions that current recipients are entitled to? There is no guarantee that they would, as the draft clauses published last week do not clarify this issue at all.

There is also the issue that, according to a Cabinet Minister “close to David Cameron” these powers will not be handed over until 2017 at the earliest and in the meantime the migration of DLA claimants to PIP will continue. That transfer will be complete by 2018 by which time, based on DWP projections, 66,000 disabled people will have lost all of their current entitlement (with tens of thousands more partially losing entitlement).

So another problem is that tens of thousands of disabled people will have lost their entitlement BEFORE the devolved powers are transferred, meaning that introducing a fairer regime will become much more difficult as there will be less of a benefits pot to draw on.

Finally the Smith Commission proposals, set out in the draft legislation, will devolve benefits which last year accounted for just £2.5bn of spending, or around one-quarter of all Scottish welfare spending outside the state pension. So with the current proposals Scotland would have much less to spend on 5 million of a population than Manchester would get, if CAB proposals were acted on.

Pat Onions.

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DWP faces judicial review after mentally ill man found ‘starved to death’

Errol Graham starved to death in June 2018 after the DWP stopped his benefits.