Purpose and intended effect
Scottish Child Payment, Best Start Foods and the 3 Best Start Grant payments – Pregnancy and Baby Payment, Early Learning Payment and School Age Payment - are known collectively as the Five Family Payments (FFP). Delivered by Social Security Scotland, they are five different payments which aim to provide support to low income families with the costs of raising a child.
Scottish Child Payment (SCP) launched on 15 February 2021 and was introduced by the Scottish Government to tackle child poverty for low income families in receipt of reserved benefits. As of 1 April 2022, it pays the equivalent of £20 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. SCP is currently paid 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, and the early years are key to improving long term outcomes. We are now introducing amendments to allow SCP to be rolled out to children aged 6-15 and to increase the value of SCP to £25 a week. These amendments will also ensure that, in the unfortunate situation where a child to whom a claim relates dies, these amendments will also provide for a payment, equivalent to the value of Scottish Child Payments made in the 12 weeks prior to the child’s death, to be made. This will bring the payment closer in line with the reserved benefits which act as qualifying benefits for SCP. Changes will also allow reinstatement of SCP within 12 weeks of effective change, rather than within 12 weeks of original determination.
The Scottish Government has replaced the Sure Start Maternity Grant in Scotland with the Best Start Grant (BSG). The BSG is intended to support eligible families with the additional costs associated with having a child in their early years. It aims to help alleviate material deprivation, tackle inequality, and contribute to closing the educational attainment gap. The grant provides support to low income families at three key transition points in a child’s early years.
The BSG consists of 3 payments: Pregnancy and Baby; Early Learning; and School Age. As of 1 April 2022, the Pregnancy and Baby Payment provides £642.35 for a first child and £321.20 for second and subsequent children. An additional payment of £321.20 is payable in the case of a multiple birth. The payment also provides support for people who have had a stillbirth. Both the Early Learning Payment and the School Age Payment provide £267.65 per child.
The amendments we are proposing would introduce auto-award for elements of Best Start Grant to improve take up of Early Learning and School Age Payments and make it easier for eligible families to receive their entitlement. The amendments will also provide new exceptions to the general rule that an individual is only entitled to the higher Pregnancy and Baby Payment when they are applying in respect of their first child. This will provide greater support for families who are more likely to be starting from scratch without the items that the Pregnancy and Baby Payment is intended to provide. The amendments will also remove the condition for BSG that the child is not looked after by the local authority in residential care. This aligns BSG with both Best Start Foods (BSF) and SCP, which do not have this condition
The Scottish Government replaced the UK Healthy Start Voucher scheme in Scotland with Best Start Foods (BSF) on 12 August 2019. BSF supports low income families with a pregnant woman and/or a child or children under the age of 3. The payments are delivered via a pre-paid card.
BSF currently provides £18 every four weeks throughout pregnancy, £36 every four weeks from birth until a child turns one to support breastfeeding mothers or help with the costs of providing first infant formula milk, then £18 every four weeks from one until a child turns three.
For both BSF and BSG, the amendments will widen the meaning of surrogacy to ensure that all individuals who are responsible for a child through formal surrogacy arrangements can be classed as having responsibility for the child.
For BSG, BSF, and SCP, the amendments will widen the meaning of kinship care to ensure that, as we roll out Scottish Child Payment to children aged between 6 and 15, all eligible kinship carers who are not related to the child but are known to them and have a pre-existing relationship with the child are included.
The FFP all target support to low income families. For most eligible individuals, qualifying benefits are used as a proxy for means testing. For BSF, there are income thresholds which apply to some of the benefits.
This impact assessment focusses on the impact of the Amendment Regulations on businesses and children and families who will receive any of the Five Family Payments.
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