Section 6: Format of the Payment
33. The SNP manifesto indicated that Job Grant would consist of a payment of £100 (or a higher payment of £250 for people with children) and a 3 month bus pass to help with travel to and from their place of work. However, feedback from the consultation Social Security in Scotland, which ran from July to October 2016, raised concerns that aiming the benefit only at bus services would limit travel options and not necessarily be appropriate for all Job Grant clients. This was raised particularly in relation to rural areas where bus services may be less accessible. Suggested improvements to the policy included providing assistance towards the cost of driving lessons or alternative modes of transport such as train services.
34. In addition, some Job Grant recipients may already be eligible for concessionary travel scheme which provides free travel to people with disabilities or have access to other discounts (e.g. Young Scot card). Screening applicants to verify whether they have already got an entitlement could be difficult to administer and goes against a policy intent of treating people with dignity, fairness and respect.
35. In light of this feedback, the Scottish Government undertook an appraisal of the key options for delivering a solution which would help meet the Job Grant client’s cost of travel to a place of work in the first 3 months.
36. Following this analysis we now think that combining the £100 or £250 with a contribution of £150 towards travel costs (to make a total payment of £250 or £400) would provide better support to young people. It would have the advantage of providing additional flexibility for young people to fund the cost of travelling to their place of employment using the transport method that best suits their individual needs. This approach offers Job Grant recipients flexibility in terms of type of transport, and may better support the needs of those living in rural areas as opposed to a providing a bus pass in all cases. It also has scope to support the Scottish Government’s wider environmental policies, as young people could use a cash payment to contribute towards costs of other travel options such as bicycle, train or car share opportunities. Finally, where young people incur relatively low transport costs, the payment can be spent on other things to help meet the costs of entering employment.
Amount of payment
37. The figure of £150 is based on the average costs of bus transport in Scotland, tying back to the original policy intent of providing a bus pass, and in recognition that transport costs are often one of the initial costs faced by young people starting a job. The payment amount was developed using the average bus fare figure which accounts for availability of various tickets and average number of journeys made by employed 16-24 year olds. The choice of transport mode has been driven by evidence from the Scottish Household Survey which suggests that 16-24 year olds are more likely to take a bus to travel to work.
Number of payments
38. Having combined the original Job Grant payment amount with the amount calculated to replace the bus pass element, we have also considered whether to make Job Grant a one-off payment or a series of 3 payments (to help support the young person during their first few months of employment).
39. We think that a one-off payment of £250 (or £400 for young people with children) is more likely to provide the support young people entering employment need with initial costs. For example, young people may wish to buy a quarterly bus pass or railcard, or they may wish to buy a bicycle, suit or other more expensive items before starting work, and a one off payment will allow them to do so if they wish. In addition, dividing the payment into 3 instalments creates a greater burden for the young person as it would require them to notify any changes in circumstances between payments, such as changes of bank account details. It would lead to additional administration costs for Social Security Scotland through making three payments which are considered to be disproportionate to the value of the payment.
Questions on Policy Proposals
The main eligibility criteria for Job Grant are:
a) aged 16-24 years inclusive (apart from care leavers who will be eligible for a year longer), and has not previously received a Job Grant
b) has been out of paid work and in receipt of a qualifying benefit for 6 months or more (except for care leavers who only need to be on a qualifying benefit, at the time of the job offer and do not need to meet this time requirement);
c) is ordinarily resident in Scotland;
d) is in receipt of a job offer for paid employment in the UK, that averages 16 hours per week or more over a four week period, and the job is expected to last at least three months or more; and
e) applications can be made 14 days in advance of employment start date and up to 14 days after employment has commenced.
Question 1: Are the eligibility criteria for the Job Grant clear? Y/N
Question 2: We have proposed applications for Job Grant can be made 14 days in advance of the employment start date and up to 14 days after employment has commenced. Do you think that the proposed application period for Job Grant is suitable? Y/N
Question 3: If no, please provide comments
Question 4: We have proposed that Job Grant consists of one payment of £250, or £400 for young people with children. Do you agree with the proposed format of the payment? Y/N
Question 5: If no, please provide comments
Question 6: Do you agree that the proposals for Job Grant set out in this consultation paper meet the policy intent to support a smooth transition into employment for young people on low incomes by helping to meet the initial costs of starting work? Y/N
Question 7: If no, please provide details
Question 8: Can you identify any potential unintended consequences which we have not considered in these proposals? Y/N
Question 9: If yes, please provide details
SSPD Job Grant Eligibility Consultation