Scottish Child Payment: updated position paper - October 2019

Policy and delivery developments to date on the Scottish Child Payment.

This document is part of a collection

Legislative Development

Scottish Regulations
As we set out at the time of the initial announcement, to ensure we are able to deliver the Scottish Child Payment quickly and early, we will introduce it through secondary legislation, using regulation making powers to top up reserved benefits contained in the Social Security (Scotland) Act 2018.

In developing the payment, we prioritised ensuring we could deliver in a safe and secure manner, with a positive impact for children and families, while also minimising as far as possible any negative impact on the existing programme of devolved benefits. The legal route we have chosen, while ensuring we can deliver payments early, also places constraints on what we are able to do at this time. Where this has been the case, the implications are clearly set out in this paper.

The positions set out in our first paper, and the further developments here, form the basis of the draft regulations for the Scottish Child Payment. These will be submitted shortly to the Scottish Commission on Social Security for scrutiny. The Commission will provide a report following their scrutiny which the Scottish Government will respond to, and it is our intention to lay regulations in the Scottish Parliament (expected to be in early 2020). In taking this work forward, we have continued to engage closely with stakeholders, through one-to-one meetings and roundtable events, along with detailed user research involving people with experience of the social security system, and those who may be eligible for the Scottish Child Payment, including families and early years groups.

UK Legislation
Along with requirements for Scottish legislation to be in place ahead of payments being made, we are also dependent on the UK Government and Parliament's co-operation in amending UK legislation, through section 104 orders under the Scotland Act.

An order will be required with DWP, to amend existing UK benefit regulations. This will see that the Scottish Child Payment is disregarded as income for the purposes of means-tested benefits – ensuring that the terms of the Fiscal Framework are met, for any top-up payments from the Scottish Government to be additional income, and not result in an automatic, off-setting reduction elsewhere in a person's benefit entitlement.

At the same time, we will also require an order with HMRC to amend UK legislation to facilitate the sharing of data between UK Ministers and Scottish Ministers. This will ensure we are able to access the full data we need in order to verify applications.

Timescales for these are very tight, since Section 104 Orders usually take up to 12 months, and there are additional uncertainties about available Parliamentary time given the political situation in Westminster.

These orders will need to be in force ahead of the launch of the benefit, and we have been engaging closely with the relevant UK Government departments, and the Office of the Secretary of State for Scotland, to stress the urgency of these and ensure the UK Government and Parliament can progress them as quickly as possible.



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