Self-Isolation Support Grant (SISG): Fairer Scotland Duty Summary
This Fairer Scotland Duty Summary should be read in conjunction with the Self-Isolation Support Grant Equality Impact Assessment.
Title of Policy, Strategy, Programme
Self-Isolation Support Grant (SISG)
Summary of aims and expected outcomes of strategy, proposal, programme or policy
The aim of the Self-Isolation Support Grant (SISG) was to provide a grant of £500 (£225 from 1 May 2022) to workers who earn less than the Real Living Wage or are on a low income and who will experience reduced earnings as a result of them, their child or the person they are caring for being required to stay at home to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
This grant has helped to support people who would otherwise struggle to be able to afford to comply with the requirement to self-isolate or advice to stay at home.
SISG provides those in the most socio-economically deprived parts of society with some financial support to help meet their basic needs during the period in which they are unable to work when complying with Scottish Government advice to stay at home.
From 1 May 2022, the grant changed to a one-off payment of £225 to cover the SG Health Policy advice to stay at home i.e. the requirement to self-isolate was removed.
On 22 September 2022, the Living Foundation announced an increase in the hourly rate from £9.90 to £10.90 per hour to be effective as soon as possible. Ministers agreed the changes were to be in place from Tuesday, 18 October 2022.
This means any application process on or after this date will be paid at the higher award rate of £250.
Summary of evidence
This Fairer Scotland Duty Summary is being written in late 2022. This allows us to gain insight from reports which have analysed the impact of Covid-19. For example, as reported in the joint Scottish Government and COSLA report on "Scotland's Wellbeing: The Impact of COVID-19" https://nationalperformance.gov.scot/scotlands-wellbeing-impact-covid-19 the pandemic exacerbated existing inequalities. Those already experiencing disadvantage – minority ethnic communities, disabled people, older and younger people, women – were disproportionately impacted, often in multiple ways and with compounding effects.
The fundamental principles of the SISG have always been to provide financial support for those who would experience reduced earnings as a result of them, their child or the person they are caring for being required to self-isolate, or stay at home, to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The evidence we have seen since the beginning of the pandemic supports our decision-making process and that we were correct to target eligibility for the grant to those most in financial need and to continue this support when other UK nations had ended theirs.
From the limited evidence available, we know that individuals who had received the SISG found it useful and easy to access.
Information received from local authorities as of end July 2022 and analysed by SG finance colleagues indicates that more than double the number of SISG applications were made from LAs in SIMD quintile 1 (the areas with the highest levels of deprivation) at 27.1% versus 12.5% in quintile 5 (least deprived).
From 1 May 2022, the SISG grant value was £225. Our decision to reduce the grant from £500 to £225 was based on a RLW calculation designed to meet the needs of socio-economic disadvantage groups as a result of the impact assessment of the policy change on the protected groups.
Summary of assessment findings
We are not aware of any evidence that would suggest alternative approaches to the grant design and delivery. Similar approaches were taken elsewhere in the UK, but the support offered in England was more narrowly targeted and excluded workers and households who would still have been eligible for support in Scotland.
As set out above, the fundamental principles of the SISG have always been to provide financial support for those who would experience reduced earnings as a result of their following Scottish Government advice to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The decision not to change the scheme is based on evidence of its effectiveness. We do not plan on maintaining the grant beyond the immediate future.
Name: John Paul Liddle
Job title: Deputy Director, Business Support Policy and Governance
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