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Passported benefits

The UK Government has embarked on a wide-ranging programme of welfare reform, with a range of changes taking effect from April 2013.

Many working age benefits will change in their current form (including Housing Benefit, Income Support and income based Jobseekers Allowance) and be replaced with a new Universal Credit (UC).

Child Tax Credits and Working Tax Credits will also change while Disability Living Allowance has been replaced by a new Personal Independence Payment (PIP) for working age only.

In Scotland we use the receipt of various welfare benefits as a measure for low-income or disability when assessing entitlement to Scottish-controlled benefits such as free school lunches and legal aid, among others.

These are often known as "passported benefits" and include benefits-in kind, cash benefits or discounts on charges. Given that Universal Credit will encompass both in-work and out-of-work claimants, it is not as simple as extending eligibility of passported benefits to all those on UC.

In Scotland it is proposed to tackle this work in two stages.

  • To introduce revised eligibility criteria for April 2013 once the UK Government provides full details on how UC and PIP will operate;
  • To consider from April 2013 onwards a) what the impact of Universal Credit and PIP are once the impact is clearer, and  b) whether Scotland wishes to create a more coherent system of passported benefits, while maintaining access to those groups who currently benefit.

In Scotland the current 'passported benefits' are:

Passported from Universal Credit

  • Legal Aid
  • Free school lunches
  • Free NHS dental treatment
  • NHS patient travel costs
  • NHS optical vouchers
  • Individual Learning Accounts
  • Education Maintenance Allowance
  • Court exemption fees

Passported from PIP

  • Blue Badge parking permit
  • Concessionary bus travel (for working age)
  • Student loans for Higher Education - exemption from repayment

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