Best Start Grant: equality impact assessment
Equality Impact Assessment (EQIA) considers potential effects of Early Years Assistance (Best Start Grants) (Scotland) Regulations 2018 and how it impacts on people with one or more protected characteristics.
1. This is a summary of the full Equalities Impact Assessment (Best Start Grant) conducted on the BSG to accompany he Early Years Assistance (Best Start Grant) (Scotland) Regulations 2018.
2. The Scottish Government is committed to replacing the UK Government's Sure Start Maternity Grant ( SSMG) with the BSG, a new, expanded benefit to provide financial support to lower income families during a child's early years.
3. The BSG is one of a range of measures aimed at giving children the best start in life and will pay qualifying families £600 at around the time of the birth of the first child and £300 on the birth of every subsequent child. An additional payment of £300 is payable in the case of a multiple birth. The grants will be administrated by Social Security Scotland.
4. The regulations this EQIA relate to are for the BSG Pregnancy and Baby payment only but this EQIA relates to all three BSG payments once fully implemented, pregnancy and baby, early learning and school age payments.
5. This EQIA has considered the potential effects of the BSG and how it impacts on people with one or more protected characteristics. Our findings are based on desk based research, analysis of consultation responses and stakeholder engagement and feedback, and what we have heard directly from people with experience of applying and from people who may be eligible in the future.
6. All families who share protected characteristics will benefit from:
- The increase in the value of the pregnancy and baby payment to £600 by comparison with £500 under SSMG, and
- The introduction of £300 payments for second and subsequent children.
- Improved access as a result of simplified eligibility, wider application windows and a more accessible application process.
7. We found that BSG has potential to impact positively on those who share protected characteristics:
- Age – young parents under 18 or 18 and 19 and still in full time education and dependent on their own parents will have better access to the BSG than they currently do to the SSMG. This is both because they are not required to be on a qualifying benefit in order to access a payment and because they will be able to apply in their own right rather than their parent or carer (the grandparent) being the qualifying person.
- Disability – while the BSG has not provided separately for disabled parents or children in eligilbity, the rules have been developed with the needs of disabled children in mind. For example there is no requirement to take up a nursery place to qualify for an early learning payment.
- Pregnancy and Maternity – the expansion of eligiblity and extension of the application window will improve access for mothers, allowing more mothers to apply earlier in their pregnancy, allowing them to plan ahead. Payments for second and subsequent children will provide support at every pregnancy rather than just the first.
- Race, Religion and Belief – there is evidence that those who share these protected characteristics tend to have larger familes. These families will benefit from the introduction of payments to second and subsequent children.
8. Groups who share protected characteristics may face difficulties in accessing or understanding their entitlements due to language or other communication barriers. Applications for BSG will be taken over the phone, online or on a paper form which will improve access. We will ensure information and advice on BSG is as accessible as possible and reaches the full range of people who could benefit from this support in a range of formats.
9. The Scottish Government's commitment to co-design the new social security system with experts and people with personal experience of the current system has ensured that those with protected characteristics have had a direct impact on shaping the service.
Email: Alison Melville email@example.com
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