1.1 This report is published under section 77 of the Social Security (Scotland) Act 2018 ('the Act') which requires Scottish Ministers to consider the effects of price inflation on all forms of assistance delivered under Part 2 Chapter 2 of the Act and to lay a report in the Scottish Parliament, before the end of the each financial year.
1.2 This report states the inflation-adjusted level of each relevant figure, explains how the inflation-adjusted levels have been calculated and states what the Scottish Ministers have done, or intend to do, in light of their calculations and their reasons for that decision.
1.3 The forms of assistance under the reporting duty in section 77 include:
- 1. Carer's assistance
- 2. Cold-spell heating assistance
- 3. Winter heating assistance
- 4. Disability assistance
- 5. Early years assistance
- 6. Employment-injury assistance
- 7. Funeral expense assistance
- 8. Housing assistance
- 9. Short-term assistance
1.4 Of the above forms of assistance, the Best Start Grant, Funeral Support Payment and Young Carer Grant are being delivered this year and are therefore included in this report for consideration. The report is required to consider the change in prices since the previous report was laid before the Scottish Parliament. However, as this is the first year of preparing the report the reference to calculating the change in prices is in relation to the effect of the change in prices since the date on which the Regulations providing for the various forms of assistance came into force.
1.5 This report also explains how the inflation-adjusted levels of Carer's Allowance and Carer's Allowance Supplement have been calculated. This reporting is not required by the Act but is being provided to offer a fuller picture. Similarly, consideration will be given to reporting on other forms of assistance which are not covered by section 77 as and when they are created.
1.6 The draft Scottish Child Payment Regulations that will be laid in 2020, will extend the reporting requirement under section 77 to the forms of assistance that are created under section 79 of the Act as top-up payments to reserved benefits. However, as these Regulations will not come into force until after the end of the financial year 2019-20, there is no reporting duty for the Scottish Child Payment at the time of preparation of this report.
1.7 Finally, section 78 of the Act requires Scottish Ministers to bring forward legislation, before the end of each financial year, to replace the amount in the regulations which is, in their opinion, materially below its inflation- adjusted level. All forms of carer's assistance (including Young Carer Grant), disability assistance, employment-injury assistance, and funeral expense assistance (now referred to as Funeral Support Payment) that are set out in devolved legislation are to be uprated to the inflation-adjusted level set out in section 77. This means that for the financial year 2020-21 there is a requirement to uprate Funeral Support Payment and Young Carer Grant.
1.8 The Scottish Government is committed to embed the eight Scottish social security principles in Section 1 of the Social Security (Scotland) Act 2018 into the policy making process. The approach to uprating, in particular, is intended to reinforce the principles that -
- social security is an investment in the people of Scotland;
- social security is itself a human right and essential to the realisation of other human rights;
- the Scottish social security system is to contribute to reducing poverty in Scotland and
- opportunities are to be sought to continuously improve the Scottish social security system in ways which— i) put the needs of those who require assistance first, and ii) advance equality and non-discrimination.