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Attendance Allowance is claimed by people aged 65+ who need help caring for themselves because of a disability. The UK Government had announced plans to consult on the devolution of responsibility for Attendance Allowance to Wales – a benefit claimed by more than 100,000 people in Wales at the end of 2015 at a cost of £415 million.
Working with the Welsh Local Government Association, we looked at the advantages and disadvantages of devolving Attendance Allowance to Wales and considered what a devolved Attendance Allowance scheme might look like.
This project looked at the options for devolving responsibility for Attendance Allowance to Wales by:
- evaluating the Attendance Allowance claimant rate in Wales, including characteristics of claimants and trends.
- considering the devolution of Attendance Allowance to Northern Ireland, Scotland and local authorities in England.
- bringing together key stakeholders in Wales to participate in a roundtable discussion on the potential devolution of Attendance Allowance.
- making recommendations about the potential benefits and negatives of devolving Attendance Allowance.
The published findings are based on analysis of statistics and evidence, and a roundtable discussion which took place in early September 2016.
This was a joint project between the Bevan Foundation and the Welsh Local Government Association.
Note: the UK Government announced in February 2017 that it is no longer considering the devolution of Attendance Allowance to local authorities in England as part of the Business Rates Retention reforms, but no specific reference to Wales has been made.
Start date: 1st August 2016 End date: 31st October 2016
The future of Attendance Allowance
This report explores the future of Attendance Allowance in Wales after it was identified by the UK Government as a possible candidate for devolution. It warns that if the benefit were devolved to local authorities in England, as proposed, it is highly unlikely that it would not also be devolved to Wales. Therefore, the Welsh Government should be taking steps now in preparation. It concludes with five recommendations on how this should be approached:
- The Welsh Government should set up an advisory group of disability, social care and welfare benefits experts ahead of a UK Government consultation on devolving the benefit for new claimants.
- If it were devolved, the Welsh Government should consider the devolution of responsibility for existing claimants to avoid a two-tier system emerging.
- The principles of Wales’ social security system should be determined before the new benefit(s) is designed.
- Funding for the devolved benefit should replicate Scotland’s settlement, which is based on previous year’s expenditure and an additional transfer for administration costs, and is then ‘Barnettised’ for future years.
- A take-up campaign should be run to maximize the number of Attendance Allowance claimants in Wales to give a more accurate picture of all those who are eligible to claim Attendance Allowance.