Scotland's much-vaunted belief that it is fairer than the rest of the UK is under the spotlight, says Kirstein Rummery, as new powers reopen old questions about the best way to support disabled people.
With the devolution of further powers under the forthcoming Scotland Bill, there is an opportunity to create a devolved system of welfare that is fair, universal, simple and sustainable. Scotland has long maintained that it is different and fairer to the rest of the UK when comes to its approach to welfare and care; now it has the means to prove it.
- Take the existing benefits and combine them with the Self-Directed Support and adult social care budgets to fund a single, user-controlled benefit with three tiers of payment - derived from the World Health Organisation’s Instrumental Activities of Daily Living Scale - using three broad categories – mild, moderate and severe.
- Users could then chose to take this as a weekly direct payment – to spend on services, support, personal care, informal care, aids etc. – and be assisted by user-run advocacy services both to apply for and manage the payment, or chose to have the payment managed for them by social services departments.
- This could be combined with an increase in benefits for informal carers so that users can put together the right package of support from state, community and family provision to reflect their own needs.