Five Family Payments Reference Group minutes: January 2022

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 19 January 2022.

Attendees and apologies


Kirsty McKechnie, Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG)

Eilidh Dickson, Engender

Katie Dee, NHS Lothian

Anne Baldock,  One Parent Families Scotland (OPFS)

Chris Birt, The Joseph Rowntree Foundation

Polly Jones, The Trussell Trust

Christine Carlin, Home Start UK

Morven Brooks, Disability Equality Scotland

Stephanie Millar, Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS)

Lynn Forsyth, Chair, Scottish Government

Merlin Kemp, Scottish Government

Richard Strachan, Scottish Government

Ben Sutcliffe,  Scottish Government

Nicola Birrell, Scottish Government

Brendan Mcginty, Social Security Scotland

Sandra Stewart, Social Security Scotland

Annie Mcgovern, Social Security Scotland

Joe Rose, Social Security Scotland

Pauline Torley, Scottish Government

Kai Stuart, Scottish Government

Barry Pattison, Scottish Government


Carole Anderson, NHS Borders

Eddie Follan, Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA)

Gail Wilson, Social Security Scotland

Items and actions


The Chair opened the meeting with introductions. All those present gave their name, job title and organisation.

National engagement update

Social Security Scotland provided an update on national engagement on the Five Family Payments. No issues to report.

Key points:

  • looking to tighten guidance for those whose partner has No Recourse to Public funds. Currently sharing good practice, met with NHS Borders to see work carried out and looking to share. 
  • talking to National Registrars Scotland regarding Best Start Grant (BSG) and Funeral Support Payment (FSP) to see if Registrars could have conversations regarding BSG and FSP when registering both births and deaths, Social Security Scotland has developed a script for registrars to use. It was noted that OPFS worked with Registrars at Glasgow City Council previously and that these referral pathways worked well.
  • point raised regarding food bank users missing out on support, the third sector are looking to build links to share insights. Disability Equality Scotland shared a link to their latest weekly poll with their members 'Ending the Need for Food Banks' where there is an ask for more financial support Weekly Poll – Ending the Need for Food Banks (Week Beginning 13 December 2021) | Have Your Say... (
  • work of SG Food Insecurity Team was highlighted as they are currently seeking to build referral pathways as part of their cash first approach to food pilots.


  • Social Security Scotland to talk with Trussell Trust in relation to support for food bank users.
  • Five Family Payments Policy to discuss pilot project and building referral pathways as part of ongoing engagement.

Amended regulations for Best Start Grant and Scottish Child Payment  

Presentation on proposed amendment regulations for Scottish Child Payment (SCP) and BSG to enable SCP to be paid to under 16s and further align both benefits.

The SCP proposals included clarifying the period during which a determination without application can be made following cessation of SCP award and looking at what can be done to offer support where there is a death of client or child.

BSG proposals included auto award of Early Learning Payment and School Age Payment, and providing some families with access to the higher Pregnancy and Baby Payment - even though they are not applying in relation to their first child.

Client survey updates 

Presentation on the Social Security Scotland Client Survey. Overview related to aspects such as application process, impact the payments have had, clarity of decisions and differences in responses based on stakeholder demographics such as ethnicity and disability.  

Presentation on the Social Security Scotland Client Survey. Overview related to aspects such as application process, impact the payments have had, clarity of decisions and differences in responses based on stakeholder demographics such as ethnicity and disability.  

Key points

  • client survey field work will take place in February and May this year.
  • clients who have only been unsuccessful with applications will be invited to participate in this field work, for the first time.
  • feedback from Reference Group members indicated they were pleased with the depth of information provided.
  • discussion on how survey information will inform delivery, Social research colleagues doing dissemination sessions. This allows social research teams to pass on information to allow relevant teams to take issues forward. The Insight and engagement forum has been set up to make sure teams take data forward.
  • survey asks how individuals first heard about Social Security Scotland - around 5% heard through third sector.
  • concerns raised that a high proportion of those who disagreed with a decision struggled with challenging the decision. Only 23% said that they “knew how to challenge” and 26% “felt they could challenge”. Third sector happy to work with SG and share their thoughts based on what they are hearing.
  • discussion around equalities data which shows disabled and minority ethnic groups reporting lower satisfaction rates. Equalities issues may need more specialised work to establish the drivers for these responses. Minority ethnic applicants are more likely to be older and this may also have an impact.

Communications update 

Social Security Scotland provided an overview of comms activity.  Paid for TV and online campaign to promote Five Family payments.

Martin Lewis money show on Thursday 20 January will feature debut of TV advert. The show is having a special on benefits that week. This will hopefully target our demographic during a massive prime time slot. The Five Family payments campaign will run from now until February. Targeting deadlines regarding nurseries and School Age Payment at end of February. Invite to stakeholders to contact comms if required.

Planning an editorial piece for the press on SCP. Anything stakeholders can do to share would be appreciated – social media content etc, comms happy to share materials.

Any other business

Question raised on consultation plans and timescales for amendment regulations.  Advised there will not be a large scale consultation but seeking the group’s views on proposals. We will send out copy of presentation to allow members to consider proposals and feedback. We will provide indicative timescales when sending out.


  • SG Policy will send out a copy of the Social Security Scotland Client Survey presentation slides and the associated report along with the Benefit Take-up strategy.
  • SG Policy will also send out presentation slides for proposed amendments along with questions for feedback and indicative timescales for laying regulations.

The chair thanked everyone for attending. Advised the documents listed above will be sent out soon and the next Five Family Payments reference group meeting will take place approximately 6 months from now.

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