The Child Poverty (Scotland) Act 2017 sets ambitious interim (2023) and final (2030) targets for the reduction of child poverty, Scottish Ministers are required to publish child poverty delivery plans at regular intervals, with annual reports to measure progress. The first Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan (TCPDP) was published in March 2018 (and will run until 2022), setting out the range of policies and proposals to help us make strong progress towards the targets. Recognising the key role of social security, the delivery plan committed the Scottish Government to work towards the introduction of an ‘income supplement’ – a new benefit to support families with children.
Since the publication of the delivery plan, an Analysis of Options for the Income Supplement report was published, establishing a set of key objectives to help guide the development of the SCP, determine potential options and support future evaluation. The objectives set for the SCP are: achieve a minimum reduction in child poverty (relative, after housing costs) of 3 percentage points when fully rolled out; reduce the depth of poverty and provide support to those who need it most; and help to support a sustainable and lasting reduction in poverty for families with children. The outcomes of this work was announced by the Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Local Government on 26 June 2019 which confirmed that the Scottish Government would introduce a new benefit – the SCP.
To meet these objectives, the SCP will pay £10 a week to low income families with eligible children who are in receipt of reserved benefits – Universal Credit, the legacy benefits it replaces, and Pension Credit. It will be a four weekly payment, and there will be no cap on the number of eligible children a family may claim for. The payment will be delivered through an application based process by Social Security Scotland.
As a result of COVID-19, the Scottish Fiscal Commission (SFC) expect there to be more eligible children than previously projected due to the increase in numbers of families applying for qualifying benefits, such as Universal Credit. As of 9 July 2020 there were around 470,000 people on Universal Credit. This compares to 243,000 people claiming Universal Credit in January 2020, meaning that the caseload has almost doubled in that time. The SFC have published a new set of forecasts (including numbers eligible and expenditure) to accompany the SCP regulations, these can be found here. As a demand led benefit, the SG guarantees that all those who are eligible and apply for the payment will receive their entitlement.
Further information on the policy and delivery detail, including three position papers published by the Scottish Government, is available on the Scottish Government’s website.