CAS has responded to the Scottish Parliament Welfare Reform Committee consultation on the future delivery of social security in Scotland.
The devolution of these powers represents an opportunity for the Scottish Government to design policies that deal with the problems that currently exist in these benefits and to design a system that is best suited for Scotland.
CAS is currently undertaking two pieces of research on future devolved benefits which we hope will feed into their design. This includes a survey of over 500 benefit claimants on their financial and digital capability and the impact that Universal Credit will have on them. The survey will provide crucial evidence on how the Scottish Government can best use its devolved powers on payment of Universal Credit. The second piece of research will examine the principles for a disability benefit in Scotland, with 16 bureaux currently undertaking local focus groups with clients. The findings and data from both pieces of research will be provided to the Scottish Government in late September and we would be happy to share this with the Committee.
Based on bureau cases and early findings from our research, we recommend that:
- The Scottish Government removes the under-occupancy charge for all Universal Credit claimants in Scotland when it acquires the power to do so
- The housing element of Universal Credit is paid to social landlords as a ‘default’ option, as Housing Benefit currently is.
- The Scottish Government use its devolved powers to pay Universal Credit to claimants more frequently than every four weeks (our current survey asks claimants what frequency they would prefer)
- Work Programme Providers in Scotland are given discretionary powers over referrals over what is deemed to be non-compliance of the claimant commitment (and which could lead to a sanction).
- CAS would support a move to a fixed payment amount from a funeral grant system to increase certainty for claimants in the amount of support they will receive and what this covers.