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Chamber and committees

Social Justice and Social Security Committee


Evaluation of carer benefits

Letter from Minister for Social Security and Local Government, 6 October 2021

Neil Gray MSP
Convener
Social Justice and Social Security Committee
The Scottish Parliament
Edinburgh
EH99 1SP

6 October 2021

Dear Neil/Convener,

Evaluation of carer benefits

During the Committee’s Stage 2 consideration of the Carer's Allowance Supplement (Scotland) Bill, members highlighted a desire for further information on the ongoing work to review carer benefits, particularly Carer's Allowance Supplement and the Young Carer Grant. 

Evaluation of social security benefits

We use a range of data and methodologies in developing and evaluating our social security policies, including: quantitative survey data; benefits statistics; input from users, for example through our Experience Panels; existing research by other organisations; and commissioned research. Nearly £1.2 milion will be spent on commissioned research to evaluate social security benefits. Of this a significant proportion (£240,000) has been spent or earmarked for evaluations of carer benefits, including Scottish Carer’s Assistance.

Both carer benefits analysis, and wider research on carers and the caring experience, are considered in the evaluation of our carer benefits. This work, combined with the client insights work of Social Security Scotland provides a rich seam of evidence to help us build a system that work for all of Scotland’s communities.

Carer's Allowance Supplement

The Carer's Allowance Supplement evaluation, published in December 2020, provided us with insight into carers’ views and experiences on the overall implementation of Carer's Allowance Supplement to date. The evaluation process invited members of our experience panels in receipt of Carer's Allowance Supplement to feedback on their experiences.

It found that Carer's Allowance Supplement has gone some way to meeting its overall aims to improve outcomes for carers by providing extra financial support and to provide greater recognition of the essential societal contribution that carers make.

The evaluation, along with the input of stakeholders and wider research on the impact of the pandemic on carers, informed our decision to increase the payment in December 2021. We will continue to review emerging evidence on the impact of COVID-19 on carers and respond accordingly. The issues highlighted in the evaluation will also be considered when developing Scottish social security assistance for carers, particularly Scottish Carer’s Assistance. 

Young Carer Grant

Young Carer Grant is designed to support young carers to look after their own health and wellbeing, reduce any negative impact of caring, and improve access to opportunities which are the norm for other young people.

During its development we committed to review the Young Carer Grant after one year. Ipsos MORI Scotland was commissioned by the Scottish Government to conduct qualitative research with young carers, and stakeholders that work with them, to explore the experience of, and early impact of, Young Carer Grant on the lives of those that receive it. 

The interim evaluation report was published in August 2021. Most respondents said the payments helped to make a difference to their lives, gave them access to more opportunities and improved their mental wellbeing.

The findings are being considered in the ongoing review of benefit promotion activity and the application process for Young Carer Grant, and will also inform the development of the Young Carer Grant and Scottish Carer’s Assistance, both of which are being developed to complement existing and planned interventions to support carers both through social security and at a wider government level. It is envisaged the second part of the evaluation of the Young Carer Grant will begin mid 2023 and the final report will be published a year later.

Support to carers of multiple persons

We recognise that caring for more than one disabled person has additional impacts on carers in terms of their health, wellbeing, and employability, and that no extra support is currently available through Carer’s Allowance. Work on the Carer’s Additional Child Payment was paused in March 2020, in order to allow officials to focus on delivering the increase the Carer’s Allowance Supplement payment in June 2020 and to agree a series of easements to Carer’s Allowance with the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP). 

We are currently considering how best to extend the additional payment to those caring for multiple persons of any age. One of the key issues that we are seeking to address is the very limited data currently available to identify those with multiple caring roles. The additional payment is being delivered, and will be evaluated, as part of Scottish Carer’s Assistance. 

I hope this will be of interest to the Committee. 

Best regards,


BEN MACPHERSON

 

Associated bill

Carer's Allowance Supplement (Scotland) Bill - Stage 2