Social Security Scotland (Act) 2018: progress report 2018-2019

This report is published under Section 20 of the Social Security (Scotland) Act 2018 which requires Scottish Ministers to report annually on the performance of the Scottish social security system.

Equality Assessment and Data

51. 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).

52. The assessment of the impact on those with protected characteristics is necessarily partial given only BSG has been paid in the period of the report. There are two types of effect – one is the direct impact of the benefit experienced by a recipient, secondly, the extent to which that impact is more or less likely to be experienced by those with protected characteristics.

53. The Scottish Government are able to identify those instances, where having a protected characteristic will directly impact on financial circumstances (e.g. the cost of disability or pregnancy). Other impacts are more indirect (e.g. discrimination affecting access to employment), and are more difficult to quantify or assess the role benefits play in counteracting them.

54. The Best Start Grant Pregnancy and Baby Payment is a direct grant to households where there is someone who is, or has recently been pregnant, which is one of the protected characteristics. 11,505 families received the payment before 31 March 2019, and their household finances were increased accordingly. 26 per cent received the £600 payment for a first birth, and 74 per cent the £300 for a subsequent birth[7]. 63 per cent of applications were from those under 30[8]. Further information is being gathered from the optional equalities monitoring questionnaire that accompanies the application process and it is hoped that is will provide further insight into who applies for Best Start Grant.

55. With respect to Carer's Allowance Supplement, 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. In those circumstances, the additional support provided in 2018/19 – up to £442, through two payments of £221 – was a contribution to the carer's income which may have had an impact on the household overall.

56. Women are disproportionately represented in the client group for Carer's Allowance Supplement, being 69 per cent of the client group for Carer's Allowance. In addition, 45 per cent of claimants for Carer's Allowance are aged over 50[9].

55. Further insight into Social Security Scotland's client base may be gained through a forthcoming all-client survey that will ask clients about their experiences and protected characteristics on an annual basis. In addition, qualitative research will be undertaken with clients to gather insights into the impact they believe the benefit had on their quality of life, supporting an evaluation of the impact of the devolved benefits. Evaluations for Carer's Allowance Supplement and Best Start Grant (interim) will be published during 2020.



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