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Coronavirus (Scotland) (No. 2) Bill: child rights and wellbeing impact assessment
Stage 1: Screening - key questions

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Stage 1: Screening - key questions

1. What aspects of the policy/measure will affect children and young people up to the age of 18?

The Bill proposes making provision to:

  • give students in purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA), and university and college accommodation (a) a 7 day notice to leave period for those currently tied into a student accommodation contract; and (b) a 28 day notice to leave period in relation to the forthcoming academic term, during the time the provisions are in force and for Covid-19 related reasons only
  • provide for a Coronavirus Carer's Allowance Supplement (CCAS) to carers aged 16 and over and in receipt of Carer's Allowance on the qualifying date of 13 April 2020
  • make bankruptcy more accessible to debtors and less accessible to creditors
  • temporarily withdraw the requirement for a prescribed person to witness a named person accept the role in relation to mental health law
  • amendment statutory time limits for criminal proceedings in the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995
  • allow the Scottish Ministers to make arrangements for Prisoner Custody Officers to carry out duties within police stations
  • allow the continuation of undertakings without the conditions expiring where the court considers the person's failure to appear at court in accordance with their undertaking is attributable to a reason related to coronavirus and it is not appropriate to grant a warrant for the person's arrest.
  • put beyond doubt that "exceptional circumstances" in relation to proceedings connected to the making of a confiscation order includes the effect (whether direct or indirect) of coronavirus on the proceedings. This allows the court to extend the period of postponement beyond the 2 year period set out in section 99(5) of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 in cases where this is necessary due to the effect that coronavirus has had on the proceedings
  • amend sections 116 and 117 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 and add a new section 116A, to allow the court to extend the specified period for payment of a confiscation order where, for reasons relating to coronavirus, the accused has been (or will be) unable to pay the order within 12 months from the date that the order was made. It also makes provision to dis-apply the requirement to pay interest where an order is granted by the court extending the specified period beyond 12 months from the date that the confiscation order was made
  • provide that if the Citizens Assembly on Climate Change is unable, for a reason relating to coronavirus, to report by 28 February 2021, then it must do so as soon as reasonably practicable after that date
  • extend the deadline for publication of a Ministerial statement on local connection
  • change the dates in the European Championship (Scotland) Act 2020 ("the UEFA 2020 Act") so that these fit with the rescheduled event. It also amends the exception to the ticket touting offence for charity auctions so that this includes charities based in any country or territory, rather than the UK and EU only
  • extend the length of permission for Listed Building and Conservation Area Consents
  • allow electronic submission and registration of copy deeds in the Register of Inhibitions and Register of judgments in certain circumstances
  • extend the time period during which a previous main residence must be sold in order for house-buyers who have paid the Land and Building Transaction Tax Additional Dwelling Supplement (ADS) prior to a particular date to claim a repayment from Revenue Scotland
  • provide a power to introduce non-domestic rates relief

2. What likely impact - direct or indirect - will the policy/measure have on children and young people?

Changes to Student Tenancy Agreements in purpose built student accommodation ("PBSA") and University and College Accommodation

The introduction of a temporary seven day notice to leave period for students living in PBSA and Halls of Residence to enable them to end their accommodation contract early will ensure that students (a) who have left their accommodation, or have been unable to return to it, due to Coronavirus restrictions and who wish to end their contract early, are able to do so; and (b) will bring student's tenancy rights in PBSAs in relation to notice periods in line with those students residing in the mainstream private rented sector. It should be noted that 61% of students who live in private sector halls are under 21 and 74% of students who live in provider maintained property are under the age of 21 and under.

Coronavirus Carer's Allowance Supplement ("CCAS")

CCAS will mainly affect young people (16 and over) who are in receipt of Carer's Allowance ("CA"), with indirect impacts on disabled children and young people who are cared for by someone in receipt of CA. CCAS is expected to have positive impacts on those children and young people directly affected.

According to Census 2011 data, around 8,200 16-18 year olds provide some hours of unpaid care[1]. As of August 2019, there are around 78,250 carers in receipt of CA in Scotland, of whom approximately 360 are aged under 18[2]. While some recipients may have significant capital and non-earnings income, most recipients are expected to have lower than average incomes[3]. Research has shown that caring can have negative impacts on carers' health and wellbeing.

Young carers may often not recognise themselves as carers, and as such may be less likely to receive support for their caring role. Studies have suggested that this is especially common among some minority cultural and ethnic communities[4]. Publicity around CCAS may increase uptake of CA among eligible young carers.

The Scottish Government recognises that the limitations of the data available mean it is not possible to get a complete picture of the experiences of young carers in receipt of CA, or children and young people who are cared for, or living with, people in receipt of CA. It is also recognised that the current eligibility criteria for CA may impact more negatively on children and young people because of the restrictions on study hours and the requirement to provide at least 35 hours a week of caring. The Scottish Government has introduced a Young Carer Grant of around £300 per year for carers aged 16, 17 and 18 who are not in receipt of CA. This new grant provides some financial support and is intended to recognise the contribution of young carers who are not eligible for CA. This grant has been promoted in light of the coronavirus outbreak, and a modest increase in applications has been seen.

Making bankruptcy more accessible to debtors and less accessible to creditors

To the extent that children and young people are living in households facing the burden of unsustainable debt, they will benefit indirectly from measures to make bankruptcy more accessible and give greater protection to households from creditor action. The costs of problem debt are felt strongly by families. StepChange, a debt advice agency, suggest that 90% of parents in problem debt cut back on essential items for their children to help them keep up with their debts. They suggest that families in problem debt are twice as likely to argue about money than families in general, contributing to relationship strain and family breakdown. These problems are not limited to parents. Amongst children from families in problem debt, StepChange found that 60% often worried about their families' finances. There are concerns that due to the circumstances surrounding the coronavirus outbreak, there may be a number of additional families who might enter problem debt.

Temporarily withdrawing the requirement for a prescribed person to witness a named person agree to the role in relation to mental health law

Under the Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003 a patient aged 16 or over may choose an individual to be their named person. A named person represents the interests of and supports a patient subject to proceedings under the 2003 Act. The Bill temporarily removes the requirement for a person to have their signature witnessed by a prescribed person when they agree to become a named person.

Although these temporary changes do not apply to those under 16, the provisions in the Bill ensure that patients still have the ability to choose their own named person, while minimising any delays in the process of nomination caused by the outbreak. This in turn will reduce any delays in having the patient involved in their care and treatment decisions.

Amendment of statutory time limits for criminal proceedings in the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995

The Bill removes the time limit on the permitted length of a single adjournment in summary cases after first calling where the accused is not in custody, and in all cases to allow inquiries to be made prior to sentencing for a report on the offender's physical or mental condition or pending a decision regarding an alleged breach of a court order. The purpose of these provisions is to avoid additional court hearings in order to further adjourn cases where it is anticipated at the outset that the coronavirus outbreak means it will not be possible for further inquiries to be completed within the current maximum period for a single adjournment. These changes will apply in cases involving children who have reached the minimum age for prosecution (12) in the same way as they do to adults, but it should be noted that, in line with the Lord Advocate's guidelines on the reporting of offences committed by children, the great majority of offences alleged to have been committed by children under the age of 16 are reported to the Children's Reporter rather than being prosecuted in the criminal courts.

Allow the Scottish Ministers to make arrangements for Prisoner Custody Officers to carry out duties within police stations

The provisions to allow the Scottish Ministers to make arrangements for Prisoner Custody Officers will not impact on children and young people.

Allowing the continuation of undertakings without the conditions expiring where the court considers the person's failure to appear at court in accordance with their undertaking is attributable to a reason related to the coronavirus outbreak and it is not appropriate to grant a warrant for the person's arrest.

These provisions will impact children and young people only in instances where the person released on an undertaking is a person aged 12 years or more. It should be noted, however, Lord Advocate's Guidelines: Liberation by the Police Covid-19 or Coronavirus says while children can be released on undertakings, the necessity and proportionality of imposing conditions on a child must be considered carefully before applying any liberation condition to a child.

Inclusion of the effect of coronavirus on proceedings as an exceptional circumstance in relation to the proceedings for the purposes of section 99(4) of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002

This amendment will have no impact on the rights of children or young people.

Extension of the specified period for payment of a confiscation order where payment cannot be made for reasons relating to coronavirus within 12 months of the date that the order was made and disapplication of interest where an extension is granted

This amendment may have an impact on the rights of children and young people under Article 9 of the UNCRC.

Extension of time for report of citizens assembly on climate change

The citizens assembly will recruit members aged 16 and over. Provision to allow for the possibility of delay will apply to all members equally.

Extend the deadline for publication of a Ministerial statement on local connection

The provision to extend the deadline will not impact on children and young people up to the age of 18.

UEFA European Championship

It is expected that the minor changes to existing legislation made by the Bill will not directly affect children and young people up to the age of 18. It is anticipated that only a small number of local traders and businesses will be impacted, over a limited number of days. For children who attend matches in Glasgow there may be some indirect negative impact in restricting the choice of goods they (and their family) can buy in event zones, however, there is also expected to be a positive indirect impact as a result of people being assured that they are buying official merchandise. Overall, these impacts are considered to be minimal for children and young people.

Extend the length of permission for Listed Building and Conservation Area Consents

The proposed measure to extend the duration of listed building consents and conservation areas consents that would otherwise be due to lapse during the emergency period will not impact on children and young people up to the age of 18.

Allow electronic submission and registration of copy deeds in the Register of Inhibitions and Register of judgments in certain circumstances

The measure will have no direct or indirect impact on children and young people. The measures will preserve the legitimate expectations of parties prior to the closing of these registers ensuring the intended effect of court judgments is available to the public.

Extend the time period during which a previous main residence must be sold in order for house-buyers who have paid the LBTT Additional Dwelling Supplement (ADS) prior to a particular date to claim a repayment from Revenue Scotland

The measure could have direct relevance if there are any young people who have paid the ADS and intend to reclaim it. In addition, it could impact indirectly on any children or young people who live in the household of someone who may become eligible to reclaim the ADS as a consequence of it.

Power to introduce non-domestic rates relief

This amendment will have no differential impact on children or young people as non-domestic rates are charged on the occupiers of non-domestic properties regardless of their age.

3. Are there particular groups of children and young people who are more likely to be affected than others?

Proposed Changes to Student Tenancy Agreements in PBSA and University and College Accommodation

The Scottish Government is aware that the majority of those remaining in student accommodation will be international students and so will benefit from the provisions. The Scottish Government estimates that almost half of students in halls are from outside the UK and hence, those staying in provider maintained and private sector halls of residence, are potentially more likely to have a wider variety of ethnic backgrounds.

Coronavirus Carer's Allowance Supplement (CCAS)

Disabled children and young people aged up to 18 cared for by CCAS recipients are more likely to be affected than other groups.

Temporary removal of the requirement for a prescribed person to witness a named person agree to the role under mental health legislation

This provision relates to those over 16 and who have a mental disorder. However this provision will ensure that patients still have the ability to choose their own named person, while minimising any delays in the process of nomination caused by the outbreak. This in turn will reduce any delays in having the patient involved in their care and treatment decisions.

Make bankruptcy more accessible to debtors and less accessible to creditors

These measures will benefit those children and young people living in households facing the burden of unsustainable debt. Children in impoverished households with debt are five times more likely to have low well-being than those in households without debt problems, according to a 2016 report by The Children's Society. In 2014, StepChange estimated 1.4m UK families, with 2.4m dependent children, were living in problem debt. Having a number of different creditors was found to significantly increase stress in impoverished households, as different creditors may have different demands and may all call for repayment at the same time. Distressing experiences, such as visits from bailiffs, fear of eviction and stress caused by arguing parents trying to make ends meet, were found to have a direct impact on children's mental well-being.

4. Who else have you involved in your deliberations?

Given how urgently the measures in this Bill are required as a result of the unprecedented challenges currently faced, no formal public consultation has taken place. However, the Scottish Government has consulted with the undernoted stakeholders.

Proposed Changes to Student Tenancy Agreements in PBSA and University and College Accommodation

  • Scottish Funding Council
  • NUS Scotland
  • Emily Test
  • Universities Scotland
  • Colleges Scotland
  • CUBO
  • ASRA
  • AMOSSHE
  • Citizens Advice Scotland
  • Sheller Scotland

Coronavirus Carer's Allowance Supplement (CCAS)

There has been no formal consultation on the CCAS payment, however, the 2018 CRWIA for Carer's Allowance Supplement, upon which our impact assessment for CCAS draws, was subject to engagement with children, young people and their representative organisations through:

  • the 2016 Social Security Scotland formal consultation (of the 241 organisations that responded to the consultation, 81 were stakeholder groups relating to children/young people, equalities and human rights, disability and long term conditions, and carers)
  • 2018 engagement with members of the Carer Benefit Advisory Group which includes a range of carer organisations including Carers Trust who engage heavily with young carer services.

Making bankruptcy more accessible to debtors and less accessible to creditors

Given the unprecedented circumstances presented by the coronavirus outbreak, including legal requirements to limit contact with others, and the need to react quickly to protect all in society, including children and young people, it has not been possible to consult extensively with all stakeholders. However, there has been limited informal consultation carried out with representatives of the debt advice sector (Money Advice Scotland, StepChange, Citizens Advice Scotland) and creditors (UK Finance, ABCUL, CoSLA). Many of the issues covered have been addressed in earlier formal public consultations, including the 2019 Review of the Bankruptcy and Debt Advice (Scotland) Act 2014.

Justice

In relation to the Justice measures in the Bill, the Scottish Government consulted with the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal's Office, the Scottish Courts and Tribunal Service, the Scottish Prison Service and Police Scotland.

Extend the time period during which a previous main residence must be sold in order for house-buyers who have paid the LBTT Additional Dwelling Supplement (ADS) prior to a particular date to claim a repayment from Revenue Scotland

The measure would have most relevance for any young person who has paid the ADS and intends to reclaim it.

5. Will this require a CRWIA?

For the reasons outlined above, the Scottish Government considers that a CRWIA is required.


Contact

Email: emma.lopinska@gov.scot