Five Family Payments Reference Group minutes: July 2021

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 21 July 2021.

Attendees and apologies


  • Carole Anderson, NHS Borders
  • Katie Dee, NHS Scotland
  • Eilidh Dickson, Engender
  • Anne Baldock, One Parent Families Scotland
  • Chris Birt, The Joseph Rowntree Foundation 
  • Morven Brooks, Disability Equality Scotland
  • Nina Ballantyne, Citizens Advice Scotland
  • Ed Pybus, Child Poverty Action Group
  • Jill Laspa, COSLA
  • Merlin Kemp, Chair, Scottish Government
  • Lynn Forsyth, Scottish Government
  • Ben Sutcliffe, Scottish Government
  • Kai Stuart, Scottish Government
  • John Mowbray, Scottish Government
  • Yvonne Gallagher, Social Security Scotland
  • Sandra Stewart, Social Security Scotland
  • Rachael Mckechnie, Social Security Scotland
  • Pauline Torley, Scottish Government
  • Barry Pattison, Scottish Government


  • Christine Carlin, Home-Start UK
  • Polly Jones, The Trussell Trust
  • Richard Strachan, Scottish Government 

Items and actions


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

Chair opening remarks

Advised role and remit of group. Aspects such as feedback on improvements to Scottish Child Payment (SCP), Best Start Grant (BSG) and Best Start Foods (BSFs) policy and meeting frequency were mentioned. 


  • role and remit to be recirculated for comment

Social Security Scotland Agency update

Social Security Scotland  provided an update regarding applications approved, money paid out, stakeholder activities, communication channels available to clients and the Five Family Benefits Campaign. 

Key points:

  • stronger links between Scottish Government (SG) and the third sector can help SG to contact people on ground level who can help raise awareness of entitlements and eligibility
  • the importance of highlighting that applications for the School Age Payment must be made when the child is the right age, even if they are deferring, was noted
  • health professionals have encountered some misconceptions regarding eligibility for Best Start Grant. The importance of clear and accessible materials was noted
  • the potential for automatic payment of SCP with Social Security Scotland noting they this may take time as currently focussing on delivery of disability benefits
  • belief that there should be an active referral pathway to UC and reserved benefits as opposed to signposting for these
  • take up figures of SCP, with Social Security Scotland noting that SCP take-up figures are better now but awaiting release of next statistics publication before we can say officially. Looking at referrals and pass porting going forward, shared examples of good local practice will help with this


  • Social Security Scotland to pick up a conversation in relation to the deferrals issue
  • Social Security Scotland to look at what is happening at NHS Borders and review accessibility of materials with Disability Equality Scotland
  • SCP policy to have conversations regarding uptake in comparison to those entitled as well as possibility of automation and trade off with difficulties of automation
  • SCP policy and Social Security Scotland - Reach out to stats team to try and produce data for specific groups (single parents, specific geographic areas) 3rd sector could target these areas. Rejection reasons would also be beneficial

Scottish Child Payment phase 2

Presentation covered –manifesto commitments, timeline for delivery, continual improvement activities including automation, take-up, uprating and hierarchy –looking how to award SCP to the correct person.

Key points:

  • it was important to ensure that people are aware of when the payment will be made as this can help people budget, especially in light of the forthcoming cut to Universal Credit 
  • families dropping out of eligibility when their child turns 6 before phase 2.  Looking at ways to hold details for clients for a 12 week period if they fall out of eligibility. Looking at the possibility of notification and trying to ensure people don’t need to reapply
  • keen to see the increase in SCP happen soon and whether SCP could become own benefit with own legislation. It should also be easier to double payment than create a new benefit. Noted that SG looking to put SCP on different legislative footing, but this will be after phase 2 is launched. Ministers want to double payment asap but have to consider expenditure commitments


  • Merlin to take point regarding bridging payments forward and report back to the group about the timings of future payments
  • Social Security Scotland to check what is planned regarding service design and notifying individuals falling out of SCP eligibility

Best Start Foods and Best Start Grant update

Update covered BSG evaluation, further alignment of BSG, BSFs and SCP, and increased BSFs payments coming into effect on 16 August. A Judicial review for the Healthy Start Scheme saw the UK Government concede. As BSFs have similar legislation we want to make similar changes, ensuring British Children with parents or carers with no recourse to public funds can receive the BSFs provision with no impact upon immigration status.

Scottish Child Payment and Best Start Foods evaluations

Presentation outlined methodology and objectives for the Best Start Foods and Scottish Child Payment evaluations.

Key points:

  • discussion around sample sizes. Explained that qualitative research covers in depth client experience, such as using a BSFs pre-paid card, and filling in gaps rather than looking at larger trends


  • further information regarding the range of evaluation and data collecting activities going on in SG could be helpful to inform the group and help identify gaps in knowledge that members could help resolve

AOB and next steps

Members advised of the new webpage to be set up and asked if comfortable with names and organisations being included on the webpage. Also, are members comfortable with email addresses being included on Teams invites?


  • Barry will send minutes, terms of reference and will seek permission regarding above points via email as well as views on the frequency of future meetings
Back to top