The Scottish Government is creating a new social security system for Scotland, having taken over a number of benefits devolved in the Scotland Act 2016. The Act defined eight principles which underpin this new system, which aims to treat clients fairly and with dignity and respect. They include making an investment in people, reducing poverty, and bringing value for money. The Scottish Government is committed to evaluating the benefits administered by Social Security Scotland to ensure that they are being delivered in line with these principles.
The overall aims of CWHA are to help improve the health and wellbeing of the most severely disabled children and young people as well as their families.
Within this, the short-and-medium term policy aims are that:
- The household income for those eligible is increased across the winter months.
- There is a reduction in the financial pressure associated with increased heating expenditure.
- Those who receive the payment have an increased ability to heat their home in winter.
- There is mitigation of additional heating costs over the winter months.
- The health and wellbeing of the most severely disabled children or young people and their families is improved.
- There is mitigation against financial difficulties/insecurities over time.
- People are supported with payment costs at a point in time when it is most needed.
This evaluation is concerned with CWHA’s progress towards these short- and medium-term policy goals as well as that towards longer term impacts such as, children and young people having access to a full range of opportunities, and children and young people have the best start in life.
This progress can partly be monitored through an analysis of quantitative data (e.g., Official Statistics and survey data), such as the number of benefit payments made and whether objective performance indicators were met. However, it is crucial to learn directly about client experience, to understand in more detail, how benefits are spent, and how the money supports individuals. This provides a key insight into the short- and medium-term impact of benefit payments, but also creates a better understanding of how this could contribute towards longer term impacts.
It should be noted that, we have not evaluated CWHA in terms of its impact on its long-term goals. These are, children and young people having access to a full range of opportunities, and children and young people having the best start in life specifically (or measurably). However, it is possible to look at trends associated with these elements and the likelihood that CWHA has contributed to them. This can be achieved by looking at the impact on household finances and the ability of families to meet any increased heating costs, for example.
The overall aim of this evaluation is to provide the Scottish Government with timely, robust research on the experience of CWHA recipients. Specifically the evaluation addressed the following research questions:
1. To what extent did CWHA achieve its short-term and medium-term goals?
2. To what extent did CWHA contribute to longer term policy goals?
3. Are there any other outcomes relevant to the implementation and impact of CWHA?
These questions have been predominantly addressed by gathering evidence through primary qualitative research with those who received the payment, had some control of the financial decision-making that arose, and can attest to the impact of the benefit. There has also been use of available statistics in the form of the Client Satisfaction Survey and Official Statistics (both provided by Social Security Scotland and explained in more detail below).
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