Claimants in Scotland will get better treatment than their counterparts in the rest of the UK as the Scottish parliament takes responsibility for a number of benefits. Over time the differences may become much greater.
Power over some benefits are being devolved to Holyrood, including:
- attendance allowance (AA),
- disability living allowance (DLA),
- personal independence payment (PIP),
- carer’s allowance (CA),
- industrial injuries disablement benefit (IIDB).
The Scottish government have already set out some of the changes they plan to make. These include the following:
- They will stop private companies from carrying out assessments for disability benefits such as PIP, DLA and AA.
- Any child in receipt of DLA will be given an automatic award of that DLA to age 18 to allow for continuity for families. At present DLA stops when a child reaches 16 and they then have to apply for PIP.
- Automatic awards of disability benefits will apply in some cases.
- There will be longer term or lifetime awards for people whose condition is unlikely to improve.
- Benefits will rise annually by at least the rate of inflation.
- Universal credit claimants will be able to choose to be paid twice monthly instead of monthly and will be able to have payments made direct to their landlords
- Mandatory reconsiderations will have to take place within a set time limit - in the rest of the UK the DWP can take as long as they wish. If a decision is not made within the time limit, the claimant will be able to take their case to a tribunal without needing to wait for a decision.
Over time, the differences between the benefits system in Scotland compared to the rest of the UK are likely to grow. Whether this will lead to greater pressure for more fairness for claimants in the rest of the UK remains to be seen.