I am delighted that one of my first acts as Cabinet Secretary for Social Security and Older People is to lay regulations in the Scottish Parliament for our new Best Start Grant. This marks significant and timely progress to delivering a new Scottish benefit.
I am also pleased to respond to the points raised during the most recent consultation to explain the changes that have been made to the policy as a result.
The consultation on draft regulations for the Best Start Grant ( BSG), a form of Early Years Assistance provided for in the Social Security Act, ran from 23 March to 15 June 2018. It was the first in a series of consultations that will take your views on the new benefits that will be administrated by Social Security Scotland.
The formal consultation built on active engagement with
stakeholders and families
over the last 2 years, to produce a benefit in keeping with the social security principles. In particular:
- Social security is an investment in the people of Scotland – the BSG increases provision by comparison with the Sure Start Maternity Grant ( SSMG) and introduces 2 new payments, investing in the resilience of families at key points in their children's early years at a time when they may be experiencing the impacts of welfare reforms.
- Social security is a human right – the BSG is designed to be accessible both in terms of eligibility and the systems that will support it.
- Respect for the dignity of individuals – the BSG is designed to reduce intrusive questioning where possible while maintaining a robust decision making system.
- The Scottish social security system is to contribute to reducing poverty in Scotland - eligibility is designed to reach families in poverty and at risk of falling in to poverty.
- The Scottish social security system is to be designed with the people of Scotland on the basis of evidence – extensive modelling, desk research and user testing has provided us with a good evidence base for our policy decisions.
The consultation has allowed us to make final policy decisions and feed these in to the development of IT systems and processes which are needed to make the BSG a reality.
The BSG will help support families who receive certain benefits, both in and out of work, who are feeling the impact of UK Government's welfare reform. The provision for the first child will increase from £500 under the UK SSMG up to a total of £1,100, over 3 payments. Subsequent children, who receive nothing from the UK Government, will receive a total of £800 under the BSG.
Thank you for taking the time to submit your views.
Cabinet Secretary for Social Security and Older People
Email: Alison Melville firstname.lastname@example.org