Information

Social Security (Scotland) Act 2018: progress report 2021 to 2022

Report published under Sections 20 and 87 of the Social Security (Scotland) Act 2018 to provide an annual update on the delivery of the Scottish social security system.


5. Equality Assessment and Data

The Act specifies that the annual report should contain an assessment of how the Scottish social security system has affected the circumstances of people whose finances are affected by a person in the household having a protected characteristic listed in section 4 of the Equality Act 2010 (for example age, disability).

The assessment of the impact on those with protected characteristics can be considered through two main ways. Firstly, by considering instances where a benefit is directly focussed on improving the circumstances of those with a protected characteristic. For example, Best Start Grant Pregnancy and Baby Payment. Secondly, by looking at the applications and outcomes by each of the equalities groups to understand the extent to which benefits are likely to be helping people with a protected characteristic. However, some of the ways in which having a protected characteristic impacts on finances are indirect (e.g. discrimination affecting access to employment) and it is more difficult to assess the role benefits may play in counteracting these indirect impacts.

Social Security Scotland publish client diversity and equalities analysis. The most recent published data covers the period up to May 2021. We are therefore unable to provide a full assessment of the benefits paid in 2021-2022. Equalities data is gathered in a number of ways. In some cases, data is a routine part of the application. Up to December 2019, data was also collected through a voluntary equalities monitoring questionnaire. Since December 2019, data on how individuals identify with respect to equalities is now collected within the application, although it is possible for an applicant to select that they prefer not to answer the question. For Carer's Allowance Supplement and Child Winter Heating Assistance, payment is automatic for recipients of the UK Carer's Allowance or the highest level of care award for Disability Living Allowance respectively, and so available equalities data is published by the Department of Work and Pensions.

The Best Start Grant Pregnancy and Baby Payment is made to households where there is someone who is, or has recently been, pregnant. Between 1 April 2021 and 31 March 2022, 14,920 applications had been authorised for payment, with almost £6.3 million added to family budgets. Of the 14,920 applications authorised for Pregnancy and Baby Payment, 33% were estimated to be for a first birth and 67% for a subsequent birth.[2]

Best Start Foods launched in Scotland in August 2019 to replace the UK Healthy Start voucher scheme. It provides pregnant women and families with children under the age of three, who are in receipt of certain benefits, with a minimum of £4.25 a week to purchase healthy foods using a payment card (from 16 August 2021, Best Start Foods payments were increased to a minimum of £4.50 per week). Between 1 April 2021 and 31 March 2022, 36,285 applications had been authorised for Best Start Foods.

Best Start Grant and Best Start Foods share an integrated application process. Of all the Best Start Grant and Best Start Foods applications that were authorised for payment between 1 April 2021 and 31 March 2022, 27,135 (47%) were for applicants aged between 18 and 29.

As noted above, Social Security Scotland publish fuller diversity analysis. These statistics are based on information collected in equalities monitoring forms, which are completed after a client makes an application. Numbers of applications approved and denied are based on the most recent outcome for each individual client only. Last year's annual report drew on statistics up to November 2020. The highlights we report this year describe the period from December 2020 to May 2021.

During this period, Best Start Grant or Best Start Foods applicants identified themselves as:

  • 89% White
  • 4% Asian
  • 2% African

Clients who identified as Asian were most likely to have their application denied (46%), with clients identifying as Mixed or Multiple ethnic groups least likely to be denied (34%). Overall 38% clients were denied and 61% were approved.

The applicants for Best Start Grant or Best Start Foods are highly skewed towards women (90%), with 8% identifying as men. The application approval rate was 62% for women, 49% for men and 57% for clients who Prefer not to say. 17% of applicants reported that they had a physical or mental health condition which was expected to last 12 months or more.

In terms of sexual orientation, applicants for Best Start Grant reported their sexuality as:

  • 91% Heterosexual
  • 2% Bisexual
  • 6% Prefer not to say

Around 66% of respondents said None on responding to questions about their religion, followed by:

  • 12% Roman Catholic
  • 6% Church of Scotland
  • 5% Other Christian
  • 5% Muslim
  • 5% Prefer not to say
  • Other options were rounded to 0%

As might be expected for a benefit targeted at families with young children, the vast majority of applicants between December 2020 to May 2021 were under 45 with:

  • 17% aged 16-24
  • 54% aged 25-35
  • 26% aged 35-44

From December 2020 to May 2021, 89% of the applicants for the Scottish Child Payment identified as having a White background. A further 4% were from Asian, and also 2% from African backgrounds. As with Best Start Grant, the majority of applications came from women (89% and 9% from men) and most applicants were under the age of 45 with:

  • 15% aged 16-24
  • 52% aged 25-34
  • 29% aged 35-44

15% of applicants reported they had a physical or mental health condition which was expected to last 12 months or more. Applicants identified as:

  • 90% Heterosexual
  • 2% Bisexual
  • 7% Prefer not to say

Around 64% of respondents said None on responding to questions about their religion, followed by:

  • 12% Roman Catholic
  • 7% Church of Scotland
  • 5% Other Christian
  • 5% Muslim
  • 5% Prefer not to say
  • Other options were rounded to 0%

With respect to carer benefits (Carer's Allowance Supplement and Young Carer Grant), it is not possible from current data to say what the relationship is between the carer and the person who receives care. However, it is likely that a proportion of recipients will be providing care to a member of their household who must be a person in receipt of a specified disability benefit. The client group are generally on lower incomes than those without caring responsibilities. As well as benefitting the carer themselves, carer benefits will have an indirect positive impact on disabled people, as the person the carer looks after will be disabled.

In those circumstances, the additional support provided by the Carer's Allowance Supplement in 2021-2022 – up to £694.20, through two standard payments of £231.40 and the additional Coronavirus payment of £231.40 paid with the June Supplement – was a contribution to the carer's income which may have had an impact on the household overall. These payments were increased to £231.40 for 2021-2022.

Women are disproportionately represented in the client group for Carer's Allowance Supplement, being almost 69% of the client group for Carer's Allowance. In addition, around 46% of applicants for Carer's Allowance are aged 50 or over.[3]

The Young Carer Grant was launched in October 2019. According to Young Carer Grant official statistics for the period of April 2021 to March 2022, 2,490 awards had been authorised, 34% of applications were made by 16 year-olds, 39% by 17 year olds and 27% by 18 year olds[4].

Equalities analysis covering applications received from December 2020 to May 2021 shows that applicants identified as:

  • 91% White
  • 4% Asian
  • 2% Mixed or Multiple ethnic groups

Of these applicants, the approval rates were:

  • 78% with White backgrounds
  • 77% from Asian backgrounds
  • 80% from Mixed or Multiple ethnic groups

As with Carer's Allowance, the gender of applicants for Young Carer Grant was skewed towards women (57%, compared to 40% men). However, women were less likely to have their application approved (76% compared to 80% of men). 13% of applicants for Young Carer Grant reported that they had a physical or mental health condition which was expected to last 12 months or more. In terms of sexual orientation, the Young Carer Grant applicants identified as:

  • 81% Heterosexual
  • 8% Prefer not to say
  • 7% Bisexual
  • 3% Gay and Lesbian

Around 64% of respondents said None on responding to questions about their religion, followed by:

  • 13% Roman Catholic
  • 9% Church of Scotland
  • 5% Muslim
  • 3% Other Christian
  • 5% Prefer not to say
  • Pagan and Other both received 1%
  • Other options were rounded to 0%

As expected, given the eligibility for Young Carer Grant (16, 17 and 18 year olds), 99% of applicants were aged 16-24.

Our published evaluation of Young Carer's Grant[5] found interviewed recipients most commonly felt the grant had helped them to feel more recognised for the care they provide. The very existence of the grant and the fact they had been deemed eligible to receive it supported overall validation of their unpaid carer role.

From December 2020 to May 2021, 94% of applicants to Job Start Payment identified as White, and 52% of their applications were approved (the same as the overall approval rate, which was also 52%). The majority of applicants for Job Start Payment were from men (53%, 44% women). The respective approval rates were 49% and 55%. The number of applicants who reported they had a physical or mental health condition which was expected to last 12 months or more was 16%. 83% of applicants identified their sexuality as Heterosexual with:

  • 5% Gay and Lesbian
  • 7% Bisexual
  • 4% Prefer not to say

Around 78% of respondents (the highest for all benefits) said None on responding to questions about their religion, followed by:

  • 8% Roman Catholic
  • 4% Church of Scotland
  • 2% Other Christian
  • 1% Muslim
  • 1% Other
  • 1% Pagan
  • 5% Prefer not to say
  • Other options were rounded to 0%

With the benefit targeted to young entrants to the labour market, 97% of applicants were aged 16 to 24.

From December 2020 to May 2021, applicants for Funeral Support Payment identified as:

  • 89% White
  • 1% Asian
  • 1% Mixed or Multiple ethnic groups
  • 8% Prefer not to say

74% of Asian respondents had their application approved, compared to 86% of White respondents. Of all Social Security Scotland benefits, Funeral Support Payment had the highest proportion of people who reported they had a physical or mental health condition which was expected to last 12 months or more (33%), and in addition 15% selected Prefer not to say in answer to this question.

Women also make up the majority of applications for Funeral Support Payment (60%) with 32% from men. The approval rate is 87% for women and 83% for men. 85% of applicants for Funeral Support Payment identified as Heterosexual while 13% selected Prefer not to say.

There was a notable difference in responses on religious background for Funeral Support Payment, compared to other benefits. Around 44% of respondents said None on responding to questions about their religion (compared to 64% for all benefits), followed by:

  • 18% Roman Catholic
  • 19% Church of Scotland
  • 13% Prefer not to say
  • 4% Other Christian
  • 1% Muslim
  • 1% Other
  • Other options were rounded to 0%

Funeral Support Payment saw a slightly older group applying than for other benefits, however around 32% were still aged under 45. 44% were aged 45-65 and 24% aged 65 or over.

Contact

Email: posy.musgrave@gov.scot

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