The Scottish Child Payment (SCP) is a new benefit being introduced by the Scottish Government to tackle child poverty for low income families in receipt of reserved benefits. It will pay the equivalent of £10 a week per child every four weeks in arrears to families, with no cap on the number of eligible children a family can claim for. Early payments of the SCP will be made to families with children under the age of 6 – recognising that, of all children in poverty, almost 60% live in a household where the youngest child is aged under 6. The early years are key to improving long term outcomes with socioeconomic differences during them having implications in later decades. This is ahead of the payment being rolled out to children under 16. Recognising the need to get money to families quickly, 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
Islands Communities Impact Assessments (ICIA) are a duty under the Islands (Scotland) Act 2018 whereby Scottish Ministers and other relevant public bodies must have regard to island communities in exercising their functions and in the development of legislation.
The scope of this ICIA is to examine the impact of the SCP on the children under 6 who will be eligible for the early payment, and their families, who live in remote or rural communities. It is more important than ever, given the challenges the current COVID-19 crisis has created for those on low incomes, to understand those impacts.
As children are part of the household unit, when assessing the impacts of social security and poverty it is necessary to consider the circumstances of the household. Given this, as we developed the impact assessments we identify issues that arise within the social security system as a whole, and the added impact of poverty, on all members of a household – both those receiving the benefits and their children. We will also consider the payment in the wider context of the devolution of social security powers to Scotland.
This impact assessment focusses on the early payment being made to children under 6, and a further one will be published for the launch of the payment for children aged 6 to 16.