The Covid-19 pandemic has had a major impact on the Scottish Government, on Social Security Scotland and on the Department for Work and Pensions, whose support we need in order to transfer social security powers. As was set out in my statement to Parliament on 1 April, we are having to rework our timetable to deliver the remaining devolved benefits and to complete case transfer.
That is a complex on-going exercise. We must consider the impact of the pandemic not only on our own services, but on the availability of health and social care professionals to bring their expertise to co-design of disability and carer benefits, at a time when many of them are still needed on the front line. We must also account for the extraordinary pressures that have been placed on the DWP following the unprecedented demand for universal credit, which is impacting on the resources that it has available for the devolution programme.
I will update Parliament on revised delivery dates for Scottish carers assistance and dates for completion of case transfer of Scottish clients who are in receipt of carers allowance, once the re-planning work is complete.
I thank the cabinet secretary for her answer, and note that she will inform us of those dates.
As the cabinet secretary knows, unpaid carers across Scotland have been putting in the toughest shifts during the pandemic, often without breaks. The 78,000 of them who got the additional supplement are, as many of us will have heard across Scotland, deeply grateful for that support, but many have also lost loved ones to the virus.
The cabinet secretary might be aware of the policy proposals from Marie Curie, Sue Ryder and Reform Scotland for a bereavement support bill, a fund for training and education for carers returning to work, a post-caring support payment and, importantly, a full six months of carers allowance after a carer is bereaved. Has the Government responded to those organisations, and will it be able to support at least some of those development proposals and take them forward?
I am very much aware and appreciative of that work by Marie Curie, Reform Scotland and Sue Ryder. We will hold a consultation on how carers allowance could be changed as it is devolved to Scotland, so that we can ensure that it works better for the people of Scotland. Certainly, as we move forward with that, the aspects of the work by those organisations that relates to social security will be taken into consideration.
I recognise the role that carers play in our society and the challenges that they face following the loss of a cared-for person. That already difficult time is made even more difficult if financial challenges follow from it. The Government is very aware of that, so I reassure Ms Beamish that we will continue to encourage those organisations to work with us on that, as we look at what changes can be made to carers allowance when it is fully devolved to the Scottish Parliament.