Social Security assistance - effects of inflation: report 2020-2021

A report on the impact of inflation on devolved social security assistance as required under section 77 of the Social Security (Scotland) Act 2018.

1. Purpose

1.1 This report is published under section 77[1] of the Social Security (Scotland) Act 2018[2] ('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 each financial year.

1.2 This report sets out 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 (includes Young Carer Grant)
  • 2. Cold-spell heating assistance
  • 3. Winter heating assistance (includes Child 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, the Child Winter Heating Assistance, Funeral Support Payment and Young Carer Grant have been delivered and are 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 on 7 February 2020.[3]

1.5 This report also explains how the inflation-adjusted level of Carer's Allowance Supplement has been calculated. Although this reporting is not required by the Act, it is being provided to offer a fuller picture of all the assistance that are being delivered. Similarly, consideration will be given to reporting on other forms of assistance which are not covered by the 2018 Act such as Job Start Payment and Best Start Foods.

1.6 The Social Security Administration and Tribunal Membership (Scotland) Act 2020,[4] will extend the reporting requirement under section 77 to include the forms of assistance that are created under section 79 of the Act[5] as top-up payments to reserved benefits. However, this requirement will not come into force until after the end of the financial year 2020-21, so there is no reporting duty for the Scottish Child Payment at the time of preparation of this report.

1.7 Finally, section 78[6] 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 2021-22 there is a requirement to uprate Funeral Support Payment and Young Carer Grant.

1.8 The Scottish Government is committed to embedding 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.



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