To include impact on UNCRC rights and contribution to wellbeing indicators
There is scope for the BSG to have a positive impact on children's rights, helping those responsible for them provide items to help give the child the best start in life. The relevant articles include (but are not limited to):
Article 12 (Respect for the views of the child) - Children's views have been taken in to account in developing the policy. Parents under 16 will be able to qualify for the BSG. The information accompanying the BSG will also make it clear that, where a grandparent is applying for the BSG, the views of the young parent should be taken in to account in how it is spent.
Article 18 (Parental responsibilities; state assistance) – The BSG will provide financial support to lower income families, both working families and out of work families, during a child's early years. The money help reduce the financial pressures on the household, helping parents to fulfil their parental responsibilities.
Article 26 (Social security) –The Social Security (Scotland) Act 2018  takes a human rights based approach and sets out principles on which the system will be built. All young people who are parents themselves have the option of applying for the benefit in their own right, or having someone apply on their behalf.
Article 27 (Adequate standard of living) – the BSG will help mothers, their partners or the person responsible for them to buy essential items such as a cot or a pram.
Article 28 (Right to education) – the BSG early learning payment can help with costs during early learning to support child development, travel costs, trips out and toys for home learning or the costs associated with taking up a place at nursery. The application window has been designed to align with the take up of nursery place at either age 2 or 3, potentially allowing for a link to be made with the take up of early learning and childcare places for eligible 2's. The school age payment can help with costs of preparing for primary school, after school activities or with the cost of school trips.
Article 31 (Leisure, play and culture) – the BSG will help those responsible for the child to provide items for play, recreation and leisure activities.
It is anticipated that BSG will positively affect the following children's wellbeing indicators:
Healthy – BSF will be integrated with BSG – allowing individuals to apply for both on the same form with the aim of reducing the burden on the applicant and improving take up. BSF aims to offer nutritionally vulnerable families support to access affordable and nutritious food. The pregnancy and baby payment is available from 24 weeks to support the pregnant mother.
Achieving – The BSG cash payments, particularly the 2 additional early years payments, will help to provide for educational/learning toys and activities to help the child learn and socialise.
Nurtured – The BSG will provide financial assistance to lower income families to spend on their child(ren) to help nurture them, eg to care for them, provide essential items such as a cot and to support for early learning and development.
Active – Children from the children's parliament suggested that the the BSG early learning and school age payments could be used for outdoor clothing, a bike or after school activities.
Findings from the Early Years Assistance, a Consultation on the Best Start Grant Regulations
The Scottish Government's Pregnancy and Parenthood in Young People Strategy  highlights that young mothers are considerably more reliant on state benefits and tax credits than older mothers – a position that remains the case as the child ages. It is clear from our user testing that many find accessing the welfare and income to which they are entitled confusing and difficult.
Responses from the A New Future for Social Security Consultation  highlighted under 18s as a group which would benefit from simpler provision.
To do this, and to align with eligibility for BSF, we have decided to invest additional resource to introduce automatic entitlement for under 18s and 18 or 19 year olds in full time education or training who are still dependent on their parents. These young parents will not need to be on a qualifying benefit in order to qualify for a BSG payment. As part of a telephone or online claim, this will mean that they are asked fewer questions at application stage, meaning they are more likely to complete the process. Having this contact with young parents through the BSG application will mean that Social Security Scotland staff can promote take up of any other benefits which they might be eligible for, in line with our commitment to income maximisation. Young parents will be encouraged to make contact with antenatal services if they have not already registered.
We will work to embed BSG in wider early years policy such as the Family Nurse Partnership which will help improve take‑up for younger parents, ensuring they get the support they need to alleviate hardship.
A key issue raised during the BSG consultation was that pregnancy can have a disruptive effect on family relationships at younger ages and these young parents may be in transition when they need to apply. The consultation proposed making the grandparent the qualifying person for parents under 16 and those who are 18 and 19 and still in education and training, as happens for the SSMG at present. This would mean that the grandparent meets the eligibility criteria and receives the payment. A number of concerns were raised about this approach, in particular around the rights of the child, empowering young parents and the possibility that younger parents might not have a say in how the money for their own child was spent. Examples were given of difficult situations such as parents refusing to apply on the child's behalf or using the money for their own purposes. Despite this, the majority of respondents agreed with the grandparent proposal and felt it to be important for a pregnant child or new teen parent to have the support of an adult in accessing the payment.
In response to discussions during the consultation period and in keeping with the social security principles of dignity and respect, there will be a choice for young parents:
- A young parent who is under 18 or 18 or 19 and still in full time education or training and dependent on their parents, can qualify for a payment.
- A grandparent or someone responsible for a young parent can qualify for a payment on the basis that they are responsible for someone having a baby.
Parents Under 16
There were 40 births to mothers under 16 in 2016 in Scotland and we considered how to ensure that there would not be any barriers to these young parents receiving a payment. The legal age of capacity is 12 years old in Scotland and, in keeping with the rights based approach set out in the Social Security (Scotland) Act 2018  , we concluded that making the young person the eligible person was the best way to ensure they can exercise their right to social security. This will allow vulnerable under 16s who cannot rely on parents to act on their behalf, or who have had to leave home because of the pregnancy, to access a payment.
Children living with a Kinship Carer
The BSG responsibility test determines who can qualify for a payment. We took views on options for the test in the Early Years Assistance, a Consultation on the Best Start Grant Regulations  . The test that has been decided on will allow all children who have a kinship care order in place and some children who live in informal kinship care arrangements to qualify for the BSG. Children who live with a kinship carer who is in reciept of CTC, UC Child element or CB for them and who are in receipt of qualifying benefits will meet the resonsibiltiy test. If responsibility for a child changes during one of the application windows e.g. a child moves from living with a parent to a kinship carer, a second payment can be made to the new carer.
Payments for second and subsequent children
A possible negative impact was identified in the consultation on second and subsequent children because the payment that has been introduced is not as high as that for first children. Over the 3 payments, provision for second and subsequent children significantly exceeds that under SSMG. Paying all children a £600 payment would not be affordable within the budget available and introducing different rules depending on familiy would be complex and possibly create inequalities between children in different families.
Children of parents who have no recourse to public funds
A negative impact was identified on the children of asylum seekers who will not benefit from a BSG if their parents have no recourse to public funds. While we could make payments to these families, the person who receives them would be in breach of their immigration status, leading to potentially severe consequences. Immigration policy is reserved to the UK Government. Scottish Ministers intend to make the case to the UK Government that since BSG seeks to support potentially vulnerable young families, an exception should be made that allows those with no recourse to public funds to access it. Should this succeed, we will amend the regulations to make provision for this group.
Email: Alison Melville email@example.com
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