Questions on administering new infected blood payments
National Services Scotland meeting with those infected identifies a huge amount of work yet to be done in short time scale before Scottish Scheme becomes operational. Concerns voiced by survivors over widows payments; worries expressed about Inland Revenue and DWP; and concerns vented on pace of progress in establishing new scheme.
A note from Haemophilia Scotland Chair, Bill Wright:
Following an exchange of written correspondence between Haemophilia Scotland the Scottish Government *, it has come to light that the scale of outstanding work needed to make the Scottish scheme operationally fair and effective is greater than many would have previously anticipated.
In a meeting with National Services Scotland who have been appointed by Government to administer the scheme, (attended by patients and widows on Dec 19), key worries were expressed over how outstanding decisions will be made and what the time scale will be for making those decisions.
While payments are starting to be made to some of those infected and still living (posted on this website Nov 15th), widows and widowers in Scotland are among those who are likely to have to wait varying amounts of time before seeing the benefit of the schemes being brought North into a single Scottish Scheme.
It is clear that Scottish Government’s expected timetable set out in late summer (see our website post Aug 4th ) is now extremely difficult to meet and some target dates have already been passed. A significant element of the delay has been due to the toing and froing with UK Departments of Health, DWP and Inland Revenue. However other work set out in August has yet to commence.
Haemophilia Scotland had hoped to meet with Health Minister Shona Robison to discuss how that other work, including the concerns for Stage 1 widows could be addressed but that meeting has yet to take place. From the tone of the meeting at National Services Scotland on Dec 19 it was clear that the need for that Ministerial meeting has become a matter of urgency. We will keep you updated when and if it takes place.
Meanwhile for those who are receiving the new payments and are worried about tax liability or DWP approaches to cut benefits, it is worth restating that Government has agreed that there should as a result be no increase in tax liability or reduction in benefits. We will be publishing early in 2017 updated advice from the Alliance House organisations to Inland Revenue and DWP officials clarifying this Government undertaking. Scottish Government are actively pursuing the necessary updated documentation to reassure recipients.
We will update you as soon as we possibly can on the outcome of our ongoing correspondence with Minister over the numerous other weighty matters.
*details of full correspondence between Haemophilia Scotland and The Scottish Government will be added early in the new year