Scottish Child Payment: Child Rights and Wellbeing Impact Assessment
The Child Rights and Wellbeing Impact Assessment (CRWIA) considers the Scottish Child Payment and how it impacts on children, in particular in relation to Part 1 of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).
CRWIA Stage 2: The CRWIA – key questions
1. Which UNCRC Articles are relevant to the policy/measure?
Article 2 - Non-discrimination. Children should not be discriminated against in the enjoyment of their rights. No child should be discriminated against because of the situation or status of their parent/carer(s).
Article 3 - Best interests of the child. Every decision and action taken relating to a child must be in their best interests. Governments must take all appropriate legislative and administrative measures to ensure that children have the protection and care necessary for their wellbeing – and that the institutions, services and facilities responsible for their care and protection conform with established standards.
Article 4 - Protection of rights. Governments should undertake all appropriate legislative, administrative, and other measures for the implementation of the rights recognised in the UNCRC.
Article 5 - Parental guidance and a child’s evolving capacities. Governments must respect the rights, responsibilities and duties of parents and carers, as well as members of the extended family, to direct and guide the child in the exercise of their rights.
Article 12 – Respect for the views of the child. Every child has a right to express their views and have them given due weight in accordance with their age and maturity. Children should be provided with the opportunity to be heard, either directly or through a representative or appropriate body.
Article 18 – Parents or legal guardians to have primary responsibility for the upbringing of the child. Parents, or legal guardians, have the primary responsibility for the upbringing and development of the child, and should always consider what is best for the child. Governments must provide appropriate assistance to parents and carers to help them.
Article 23 – Children with disabilities. A disabled child has the right to enjoy a full and decent life in conditions which ensure dignity, promote self-reliance and facilitate the child’s active participation in the community. Governments must recognise the right of the disabled child to special care, and ensure the disabled child has effective access to education, training, health care, rehabilitation, preparation for employment, and recreational opportunities.
Article 26 – Social security. Every child has a right to benefit from social security, taking into account the resources and circumstances of those who have responsibility for the child.
Article 27 – Adequate standard of living. Every child has a right to a standard of living adequate to their physical, mental and social development. Governments should take measures to assist parents and carers who cannot afford to provide this, and in particular to provide assistance and support with food, clothing and housing.
2. What impact will the policy/measure will have on children’s rights?
Positive: this new policy has the potential to advance the realisation of children’s rights in Scotland.
3. Will there be different impacts on different groups of children and young people?
Under the UNCRC, ‘children’ can refer to: individual children, groups of children, or children in general. Some groups of children will relate to the groups with protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010: disability, race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation. ‘Groups’ can also refer to children by age band or setting, or those who are eligible for special protection or assistance.
The policy is specifically aimed at children under 6, however, it will then be fully rolled out to children under 16. A further CRWIA will be undertaken for the under 16s payment.
It is also expected that the policy will impact young people who are responsible for a child under the age of 6 as they can claim the SCP on that child’s behalf.
4. If a negative impact is assessed for any area of rights or any group of children and young people, what options have you considered to modify the proposal, or mitigate the impact?
The SCP will be introduced through secondary legislation, using the powers to top up a reserved benefit contained in Section 79 of the Social Security (Scotland) Act 2018. This decision was taken as it was the quickest and simplest route to introduce the payment and therefore help tackle child poverty. Primary legislation would have delayed introduction of the payment, potentially by two or three years. The decision to proceed using the Section 79 power means that eligibility for the SCP is based upon receipt of a qualifying reserved benefit. While the ability to deliver the payment quickly was viewed to be critical, given the urgency of tackling child poverty, this has placed some restrictions on eligibility, in particular, the following groups who will not qualify:
- Young asylum seekers with no recourse to public funds cannot receive a qualifying, reserved benefit and are therefore not eligible. This is a reserved benefits matter and, therefore, not within the Scottish Government’s powers to address.
- Young mothers who are not eligible for Universal Credit due to their age e.g. they are under 16. Universal Credit allows young parents under the age of 18 to apply in certain circumstances, however, in circumstances where they do not meet this criteria (e.g. they are under 16) whoever applies for the qualifying benefit on their behalf would be required to apply for the SCP. We will ensure the application process is straightforward in these circumstances, allowing whoever claims benefits on behalf of the child to apply for the SCP.
- Some kinship carers (and thus the children they support) who access local authority funding rather than the qualifying benefits for the SCP. However, we have endeavoured to ensure that those kinship carer’s who are on a qualifying benefit are able to access their entitlements, being as flexible as possible with what they can use as evidence of child responsibility.
The fact eligibility is based upon being in receipt of a qualifying, reserved benefit means that when eligibility for that benefit ends, SCP entitlement also ends. As a result, we are unable to provide payments for a set period of time following a change in circumstances (e.g. an individual entering employment), to allow time for the financial adjustment. Upon balance, the need to tackle child poverty quickly means we believe the decision to proceed using the Section 79 power is the right approach. However, these considerations will all be factored in to the review of the effectiveness of delivering the SCP via the Section 79 power, which we have committed to undertake when the policy is fully rolled out to under 16s.
5. How will the policy/measure contribute to the wellbeing of children and young people in Scotland?
With regard to section 96(2) of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014, this provision is considered to measure positively against the following wellbeing indicators:
- Healthy – the SCP can fund activities that promote both physical and mental health. It is part of a combined application with both Best Start Grant and Best Start Foods, payments which also support the healthy development of a child.
- Achieving – the SCP can fund activities to build up a child’s skills, confidence and self-esteem. It could be used to pay for extra-curricular activities or study materials.
- Nurtured – the SCP will provide assistance to families to nurture their children in various ways such as costs of care and family time together.
- Active - the SCP can fund extra-curricular activities involving sport and recreation.
- Included - the SCP will help families to overcome social, educational, physical and economic inequalities, allowing the fuller participation of children within their community.
6. How will the policy/measure give better or further effect to the implementation of the UNCRC in Scotland?
This policy fulfils the UNCRC Article 26 – right to social security.
7. What evidence have you used to inform your assessment?
What does it tell you?
In conducting this Child Rights and Wellbeing Impact Assessment, demographic information played an important role in the evidence base building on the work already undertaken as part of the Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan (TCPDP) and more broadly on child poverty.
We considered Scottish Government and UK Government data; stakeholder reports and insights; and consulted those with lived experience of the benefits system through user research.
8. Have you consulted with relevant stakeholders?
There has also been policy engagement with stakeholders through the SCP’s development. This has included workshops with anti-poverty organisations, think tanks, local authorities and academia to develop the policy and delivery model for the SCP. We have held one to one meetings and attended a number of member events organised by the Scottish Campaign for Welfare Reform, the Social Security Consortium in Scotland and the Poverty Alliance, amongst others. These events have been designed to seek views on the policy for the SCP, identify any barriers towards claiming and consider how we can best maximise uptake of the benefit.
We have also hosted a series of specific equalities events to consider the impact of the policy on those with protected characteristics, including on young people. We have engaged with Fife Gingerbread; Young Scot; Inclusion Scotland; CEMVO Scotland; and religious groups. The Cabinet Secretary for Social Security and Older People hosted a stakeholder roundtable, which was an open discussion with key stakeholders allowing them to ask questions about the policy and delivery of the benefit.
9. Have you involved children and young people in the development of the policy/measure?
The views of people with lived experience have been captured through a range of user research across Scotland to help shape the design of the new benefit. To date over 300 users have been engaged, including groups across the protected characteristics, care experienced young people and young parents.
There is a problem
Thanks for your feedback