The Social Security (Miscellaneous Amendment and Transitional Provision) (Scotland) Regulations 2022: Fairer Scotland Duty impact assessment summary

Assesses the impact of changes to Best Start Foods, Best Start Grants and Scottish Child Payment on socio-economic inequality. This duty came into force in Scotland in 2018 and is set out in Part 1 of the Equality Act 2010. It considers issues such as low income, low wealth and area deprivation.

Summary of assessment findings

The TCPDP identified a series of priority groups which are at the greatest risk of poverty, advising that they must be targeted in all of its child poverty reduction policies and measures[29]. We have developed the FFP policies and delivery options in consultation with stakeholders to understand the impact on socioeconomic inequalities and engaged with those with lived experience of the benefits system via user research.

From this work we can conclude that the Social Security (Miscellaneous Amendment and Transitional Provision) (Scotland) Regulations 2022 will actively contribute to reducing hardship faced by low income families and mitigate inequalities of outcome by:

  • Expanding eligibility for SCP to low income families with a child under 16 so that more children in poverty receive support;
  • Increasing the value of SCP so that children in poverty receive greater support;
  • Ensuring 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 and provide a more compassionate and dignified system of support;
  • Allowing reinstatement of SCP within 12 weeks of effective change rather than within 12 weeks of original determination to ensure proper checks are carried out when a person becomes eligible for SCP after a long period of ineligibility;
  • Introducing auto-award for elements of BSG to reduce the need for applications and increase uptake;
  • Updating the meaning of surrogacy for BSG and BSF to mirror change to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008 and to ensure that all eligible children who are subject to formal surrogacy arrangements can receive support;
  • Removing the condition that the child is not looked after by the local authority in residential care for BSG to align more closely with SCP and BSF;
  • Providing 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, so that low income families with a new child who are more likely to be starting from scratch can receive adequate support. These groups are:
  • o individuals granted refugee status, humanitarian protection, or leave under the Afghanistan resettlement schemes or the Ukraine resettlement schemes, who have a child/children from before they arrived in the UK;
  • o individuals who took on responsibility for a child/children who was not their own when that child/children was more than 12 months old; and
  • o individuals who have been forced to leave their home with a child/children due to domestic abuse;
  • Amending the kinship care definition for SCP, BSG and BSF to ensure that, as we roll out Scottish Child Payment to children aged between 6 and 15, 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.

These measures have been designed to optimise the FFP impact and reduce inequalities of outcome, particularly amongst the priority groups identified in the TCPDP.


The SFC have published updated forecasts detailing expenditure for FFP, these can be found here.


The Scottish Government has established the independent Scottish Commission on Social Security (SCoSS) who have provided independent scrutiny of the Social Security (Miscellaneous Amendment and Transitional Provision) (Scotland) Regulations 2022.

In their report, SCoSS highlighted that the regulations would need to clearly provide Social Security Scotland with the discretion to defer or waive making an auto award of BSG Early Learning Payment or School Age Payment to ensure that the payment is made to the right person when families are in crisis or transition, for example, through domestic abuse or moving in and out of kinship care. We have ensured that our regulations make clear that where an individual has indicated they do not want to receive payment via an auto award, an auto award will not be made. Furthermore, where an individual is no longer actually responsible for the child but continues to be in receipt of Scottish Child Payment due to receiving a reserved, qualifying benefit and they then receive an auto-award of Best Start Grant Early Learning Payment or School Age Payment, the person who is actually responsible for the child will still be able to apply and receive Best Start Grant due to the ability for a second payment to be made in certain circumstances where responsibility for the child has changed.

SCoSS also raised a concern that the rule to allow a higher Pregnancy and Baby Payment to be awarded where someone arrives in the UK with a child having been granted refugee status, humanitarian protection, or leave under the Afghanistan resettlement schemes or the Ukraine resettlement schemes would not just apply when an older child was born outside the UK or came to the UK with the refugee claimant, it would also apply when an older child was born in the UK e.g. to a new partner.

SCoSS are correct that this rule could apply to a child who was born in the UK, provided that the child was born in the UK to an individual who was living in the UK, who then later left the UK and returned to the UK seeking refugee status. This is because the child was born before the individual arrived in the UK as a refugee, i.e., before the individual claims BSG in respect of another child. This is within the policy intent as regardless of where the older child was born, the individual has arrived in the UK as a refugee and is therefore not likely to have retained the items that the BSG Pregnancy and Baby Payment is intended to provide.

A refugee will not normally be entitled to be given the higher payment on multiple occasions. To be eligible for the higher payment, all individuals under 16 who are not the child the application relates to must be able to be disregarded because they fall within one of the categories specified in our regulations. An older sibling who was born in the UK after the refugee came to this country in most circumstances would not be disregarded under this rule.

SCoSS also highlighted that the definition of domestic abuse within our regulations needed to be widened to include abuse by an individual's ex-partner, in line with the definition used within the Domestic Abuse (Protection) (Scotland) Act 2021. We have consulted further with stakeholders regarding this matter and have widened our definition to include abuse by the ex-partner.

SCoSS also recommended that the Scottish Government's review of Scottish Child Payment must take into account the lived experience of people, and any disproportionate impact there may be on particular groups such as lone parents or disabled people, in relation to how they understand and manage the loss of income from Scottish Child Payment when entitlement ends as they move into work or increase hours or earnings and thus lose entitlement to Universal Credit. The Scottish Government is currently undertaking a formal public consultation on proposed changes to the Scottish social security system and, amongst other topics, seeks views on the advantages and disadvantages around making changes to the legislative basis for Scottish Child Payment. That consultation is open to everyone. Alternative formats, events and surveys are being developed to facilitate participation from the widest possible range of people, including from people with lived experience of the social security system.

SCoSS also asked that in its review of Scottish Child Payment, the Scottish Government should look for ways to make eligibility rules fairer by offering the same amount of support to all families whose child dies. In the sad event that a child to whom a claim of Scottish Child Payment relates dies we are providing payment equivalent to the value of payments made in the 12 weeks prior to the child's death. This approach was considered the fairest way we can support families in this situation through SCP using the powers available to us.

SCP is paid as a top-up of reserved benefits using the powers available under section 79(1) of the Social Security (Scotland) Act 2018 which means we are only able to make a payment for a period where there is a qualifying benefit in payment.

We will consider this again at any review of the Scottish Child Payment legislative footing.

The Social Security (Scotland) Act 2018[30] places a duty on the Scottish Ministers to report annually to the Scottish Parliament on the performance of the Scottish Social Security System during the previous financial year. The report is to describe what the Scottish Ministers have done in that year to meet the expectations on them set out in the Charter.

We have established a stakeholder take-up reference group. This group is a partnership of Scottish Government officials and organisations representing third-sector and local authority interests who have knowledge of issues surrounding benefit take-up. It is designed so that members will bring their experience, expertise, and extensive networks to bear, ensuring that our approach draws on the experience of, and best supports, third sector and local authority partners.

Since the publication of the first Benefit Take Up Strategy[31], the Group has met twelve times and collaborated on a number of key activities with the goal of increasing take-up of Scottish Benefits. In late 2019 and early 2020 the Group played a central role in shaping the Benefit Take-up and Income Maximisation Funds to ensure that this funding was targeted to enable the maximum benefit to individuals and highest quality in learning.

We have also committed to reviewing FFP during the course of the current TCPDP (2022-2026)[32] and continue to work closely with stakeholders, and people with experience of benefits, to ensure that support is targeted at those families that need it most.

Sign off

Name: Ian Davidson

Job title: Deputy Director, Social Security Policy Division

Date: 31 August 2022



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