Tackling child poverty delivery plan: progress report 2022 to 2023

The first annual progress report for 'Best Start, Bright Futures: Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan 2022-2026'. Outlining action for the period 2022 to 2023.

Reporting on Progress 2022-23

Within this section we report progress on actions under nine thematic areas, which align with our new approach to programme delivery and our underpinning governance to deliver Scotland’s offer to families, set out within ‘Best Start, Bright Futures’. Updates focus on:

A. Strengthening our employment offer to parents

B. Transforming our economy

C. Improving access and the availability of childcare

D. Enhancing access to and the affordability of public transport

E. Person centred support

F. Enhancing support through Social Security

G. Ensuring access to warm, affordable homes

H. Maximising income

I. Place based transformation

Brief summary updates on actions which are not included in these thematic areas are included in the ‘at a glance summaries’ section later in this report.

A. Supporting parents to increase their earned incomes

Despite the impact of the cost of living crisis, including the need to reprioritise limited budgets to support those most affected, we protected our core investment to continue delivery of employability support through No One Left Behind and Fair Start Scotland across 2022-23. We continue to see the number of parents accessing support under the No One Left Behind approach increase year on year, and we have extended new referrals to Fair Start Scotland until the end of March 2024, ensuring that we continue to provide employability support to disabled people and those at risk of long-term unemployment across 2023-24.

Impact summary

  • 1,874 parents started to receive support through No One Left Behind services between April and September 2022. Available data shows that between April 2020 and September 2022, 1,304 parents accessing support have entered employment and 400 have entered education or training.
  • Between April and December 2022, 2,356 parents started to receive support through Fair Start Scotland. 553 job starts were recorded for parents over this period – including 179 for lone parents, 74 for minority ethnic parents and 113 for parents with three or more children.
  • 858 women were supported with their route back to work in 2022-23 through the Women Returner’s Programme, with 185 progressing into a job, 20 entering self-employment and 33 choosing to build further skills and experience through volunteering.
  • 339 employers signed up to the Young Person’s Guarantee in 2022-23 providing a total of 12,685 new opportunities this year alone. This brings the total number of employers to over 830 who have provided more than 22,000 additional opportunities for young people aged between 16-24 since November 2020.

Summary of action undertaken in 2022-23

The Scottish Government made almost £83 million of funding available in 2022- 23 to support delivery of key employability commitments through our No One Left Behind approach (including Parental Employment Support and elements of the Young Person’s Guarantee), and Fair Start Scotland. Work has continued with our partners to prepare to scale support for parents across the life of ‘Best Start, Bright Futures’, and improvements have been made to data collection and reporting processes to ensure a more accurate understanding of the reach and impact of our support for parents.

In 2023-24, we will make over £108 million available for employability support, enabling additional capacity in services for parents who are both out of work and in low-income employment. In recognition of the challenging budgetary context, we have also been working to consolidate wider commitments into our core employability offer. Our desire to drive innovation and improvement, which led to commitments such as the Challenge Fund and Every Contact Counts pledge has not reduced, and this will now be explored through the wider transformation of the employability system being taken forward through the No One Left Behind approach. This will allow us to continue to prioritise spending on delivery of core, front line services that people rely on, whilst retaining a focus on urgency and scale as set out in the Poverty and Inequality Commission recommendations.

To tackle the financial insecurity parents face when entering employment, we reviewed existing evidence and support available, and engaged with stakeholders to identify what further support a Parental Transition Fund could deliver. This engagement highlighted up-front childcare costs for parents in receipt of Universal Credit (UC) as a key barrier to starting work, alongside the need for wider holistic support and action to increase awareness of existing measures. Following exploration of what further support it is possible to deliver within devolved competence, Scottish Ministers wrote to the UK Government in relation to help with upfront childcare costs in early 2023 – with the UK Government announcing the intention to provide support with upfront childcare costs in UC as part of the Spring Statement.

To promote uptake of existing support, we launched the Parental Employability and Financial Support marketing campaign in February 2023 and published information on both ParentClub and mygov.scot to help people find and access the range of support available to them through local authorities, the Scottish Government, UK Government, and other partners including Scotrail. The campaign was targeted at low income parents. Evaluation found it was delivered to 94% of low income parents, and was remembered by 74% of this target audience, with 25,597 unique visitors following campaign adverts to the dedicated Money & Work campaign pages.

In partnership with our delivery agents, Skills Development Scotland, we continued delivery of the Women Returner’s Programme, providing training, skills and peer support to women at a time and pace that best suited their needs. The programme closed on 31 March 2023 having allowed us to fulfil our 2019 Programme for Government commitment to support 2,000 women with their transition back to work. Learning from this programme will inform our wider approach to Scottish Government employability services, which will provide tailored support in future years.

Through our partnership with health boards we provided over 780 funded placements and apprenticeships over the course of 2022-23, including the Prince’s Trust programmes and the NHS Demonstrator Project. These benefitted a wide range of groups, including young people at risk of long-term unemployment, care leavers, and lone parents over the age of 25.

We also began progressing our commitments to support adults to develop their skills, including publishing the Adult Learning Strategy for Scotland (2022-27) on 10 May 2022, setting out our actions to increase accredited learning and connect community-based adult learners with employability services to help increase incomes. To guide future action, we undertook and published evaluations of both Individual Training Accounts and the Flexible Workforce Development Fund, and commissioned an Independent Review of the Skills Delivery Landscape which was published on 7 June.

Priorities for 2023-24

  • Together with our local authority partners we will scale delivery of employability support for parents through No One Left Behind, making available over £108 million for the delivery of employability support in 2023- 2024.
  • We will continue to work with partners to deliver on the ambition of the Parental Transition Fund and strengthen the support available to parents – this will include working closely with the UK Government to support implementation of changes to upfront childcare costs in UC across Scotland.
  • We will continue to build the infrastructure and relationships between employability and NHS boards to ensure wrap around support for service users, and support more parents into employment within the NHS across Scotland.
  • We will develop our lifetime skills offer, integrating this work within wider reforms across the post-school education and skills landscape, ensuring that child poverty remains central to its development.

B. Transforming our economy

Following publication of the National Strategy for Economic Transformation (NSET), the Scottish Government published delivery plans in October 2022 setting out how we would work together with partners, as 'Team Scotland', to deliver the actions needed to transform the Scottish economy, including action focused on driving forward a culture of delivery, tackling poverty through fair pay and conditions, and eradicating structural barriers to participation in the labour market. The policy prospectus reiterated the Scottish Government’s commitment to delivering NSET, with a sharp focus on the policies and actions with the greatest potential to grow and transform Scotland’s economy.

Impact Summary

  • In 2022-23 over 9,000 workers have been uplifted to payment of, at least, the real Living Wage due to employer accreditation.
  • 91% of all employees aged 18 and over earned at least the real Living Wage in 2022 in Scotland, an increase from 85.5% in 2021.
  • The Scottish Government has attached Fair Work First criteria to some £4 billion of public funding since 2019. This includes criteria to create more diverse and inclusive workplaces.
  • Our approach to Public Sector Pay has resulted in Scottish public sector workers receiving between 4% and 6% higher salaries on average over the last 3 financial years.
  • The proportion of women (employees aged 18+) earning the real Living Wage or more has increased from 83.9% in 2021 to 89.7% in 2022.
  • The Gender Pay Gap for full-time employees is continuing the longer-term downward trend seen prior to the COVID-19 pandemic – reducing to 3.7% in 2022 compared to 7.2% in 2019.
  • The Disability Employment Gap was 31.2 percentage points (p.p.) in 2021, the lowest since we set our baseline in 2016, and we are on course to meet the target of halving it to 18.7 p.p. by 2038.

Summary of action undertaken in 2022-23

In line with our focus on improving pay and working conditions through public sector investment, the Scottish Government announced on 6 December 2022 that organisations applying for public sector grants will need to pay at least the real Living Wage and provide channels for staff to have a say in the workplace from July 2023. We published updated Fair Work First guidance to support the adoption of this new requirement on 24 March 2023, further extending the reach of fair work conditionality which we have already applied to some £4 billion of public funds since 2019.

Building on action taken in previous years, we continued to fund the Living Wage Scotland Team (Poverty Alliance) to deliver Living Wage and Living Hours Accreditation in Scotland – reaching the milestone of over 3,000 living wage employers in Scotland as of 31 March 2023. We have also increased the number of Living Hours accredited employers in Scotland to 20, helping to drive improvements in pay and conditions for employees across Scotland.

Leading by example, we committed over £700 million through the Emergency Budget Review to fund enhanced pay settlements for public sector employees, and published our new Public Sector Pay Strategy on 22 March 2023, continuing our policy of no compulsory redundancies and promoting our progressive approach to pay by including cash uplifts for those on low incomes.

To tackle structural inequalities in the workplace, we continued to invest in the Workplace Equality Fund, funding 13 projects which supported employers in a range of sectors including social care, construction, legal, IT and financial services. The focus of projects included action to address employment barriers for priority family types, including women, disabled people, the over 50s, including women experiencing the menopause, and racialised minorities.

We also set out the action we will take to meet our aim for Scotland to be a leading Fair Work Nation by 2025 with the publication of our new Anti-Racist Employment Strategy and refreshed Fair Work Action Plan on 9 December 2022. The Fair Work Action Plan incorporates actions on tackling the gender pay gap, the disability employment gap, and to drive fair work practices for all by making Fair Work the norm across all sectors of Scotland’s economy.

In 2022-2023 we have continued to work across government to deliver on the commitments detailed in ‘Best Start, Bright Futures’, and have strengthened connections between our Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan and our plans for economic growth. In 2023-24 this work will be taken forward as part of the First Minister’s ‘New Deal for Business’, with a Wellbeing Subgroup developing a shared appreciation and articulation of how business contributes to a Wellbeing Economy and the Scottish Government’s Missions, and agreeing on key areas where we will actively work together in partnership with business to maximise this.

We are working with employers and trade unions in sectors where low pay and precarious work can be most prevalent to promote sectoral fair work agreements, concordats and charters, and collective bargaining to achieve higher standards of pay, better security of work, and greater union representation. Existing commitments to sectoral agreements are being pursued in a range of areas, including: Social Care and National Care Service; Construction including responding to the Fair Work Convention’s inquiry recommendations; and through the Retail Strategy.

In recognition of the transformational potential of Community Wealth Building (CWB), we have taken action to support local authorities to develop CWB action plans, as part of their economic recovery plans, and supported the launch of the Community Wealth Building Guide. We launched a public consultation to inform a Community Wealth Building Bill on 31 January 2023, with the consultation closing on 9 May 2023.

Priorities for 2023-24

  • From 1 July 2023, as part of our Fair Work First approach, recipients of public sector grants will be required to pay at least the real Living Wage and to provide appropriate channels for effective voice, for example, trade union recognition.
  • We will deliver the actions set out in the refreshed Fair Work Action Plan and publish an evidence plan in late 2023 along with an accompanying measurement framework to monitor the fair work context and progress we are making.
  • We will continue to support adoption of the Community Wealth Building approach across public sector bodies including key areas such as health, planning and housing, embracing their role as ‘anchors’ and the wider contribution they can make reducing poverty and inequalities, including child poverty, by taking a progressive approach to economic development.
  • By Summer 2023 we will have worked with business leaders to agree a set of actions that business can take to support the transition to a wellbeing economy within the frame of the New Deal for Business. This is likely to include making work accessible through job quality, job design, flexible working and occupational health support, with a particular focus on parents and stemming the flow of people leaving the workforce prematurely due to ill-health.

Case study: No One Left Behind - Parental employment support

Amy (24), is a lone parent to two children, one who attends nursery and one in Primary school. They live in the rural community of Blairgowrie, where employment options were limited.

Amy left school at 16 and entered full time employment, whilst this provided security it did not offer any training or progression opportunities. She also struggled due to lack of confidence and no real training opportunities in the workplace, and found that her mental wellbeing had a huge impact on her overall health and ability to progress in the workplace.

After losing her job, Amy received support from Perth and Kinross Council under their Futures for Families project – delivered as part of the No One Left Behind approach. Amy worked closely with her key worker across a period of 6 months to progress toward her long-term goal of helping young people with mental health problems.

With this support, Amy successfully gained employment with a Dundee based organisation called Front Lounge, building a project called Kindred Clothing and teaching young people how to sew using a machine.

Due to Amy’s family commitments, Amy needed help with travel costs to and from work. The Council was able to fund the cost of travel for the first month of employment until she received her first payslip. Amy was delighted that she would be able to begin her employment without the financial burden of fuel costs.

Amy is loving her employment. Realistically it’s a juggle managing work and family life; however, her employer is delighted with her progress.

The Council will continue to support Amy through regular contact, including providing help to navigate any mental health issues and working with her employer around any training that would benefit going forward.

Case study: West Lothian College’s TRUST (Trauma Responsive Unique Support Tailor-made) Project

Established with funding from the Scottish Funding Council, TRUST supports students who have experience of trauma, including poverty. The Project works to break down barriers and widen access to education.

Learners benefit from a personalised approach, and they are welcomed into a dedicated safe space, known as The Den, where they work with trained specialist staff. Once ready, they are supported into courses or assisted into employment.

As a significant proportion of students traditionally come from the lowest socio-economic backgrounds, initiatives have been put in place to provide free food, laundry facilities and personal care products for students and their families, ensuring basic needs do not become barriers to education.

Student: “I felt trapped before joining the project I didn’t know where to go for support. The project has been very helpful when I was under pressure for food and clothes, and I couldn’t believe how much support I received. I am more confident as I have been mixing with new people when I normally find it hard to open up”

The TRUST Project also engages with people in the justice system and will support young people with court appearances and whilst in custody to help them to re-engage with positive pathways once they are released.

As the TRUST has become more well known, it has been recently cited in court by judges directly. If an offender in court has engaged with the TRUST project, they could expect a possible 30 hours off a Community Payback Order. This acknowledges the work done by the TRUST to support and assist young people.

The TRUST Project is demonstrating an approach to learning that can tackle the destabilising and debilitating impact of trauma and poverty, and in doing so, support more learners and their families to go on to positive destinations.

C. Improving access and availability of childcare

The Scottish Government published Best Start: Strategic early learning and school age childcare plan in October 2022, setting out our vision for embedding the benefits of the investment in early learning and school age childcare and explaining our approach to expanding our childcare programme over the rest of this Parliament. We continue to fully fund local authorities to deliver 1140 hours of high quality funded early learning and childcare (ELC) for all three and four year olds, and have taken action to increase uptake for eligible two year olds whilst also beginning delivery of our new school age childcare programme.

Impact summary

  • In September 2022, 99% of three and four year olds were estimated to be registered for funded ELC - up from 97% in 2021. This saves families around £5,000 per eligible child per year.
  • There was an increase in the number of registrations for funded ELC for two year olds, from 6,474 in 2021 to 7,042 in 2022. 14% of all 2 year olds were estimated to be accessing their funded entitlement, a record high since they become eligible in 2014 and up from 13% in 2021.
  • 136 families and 178 children were provided with accessible, affordable childcare before and after school in our Early Adopter Communities across Dundee, Clackmannanshire, Glasgow and Inverclyde.
  • Our Access to Childcare projects (including our Ayr United Football Academy project and our childminding project with the Scottish Childminding Association, (SCMA)) provided funded school age childcare for over 850 children from low income families.
  • At least 158,292 children and young people aged between 5-14 were supported with holiday childcare, food and activities through the Summer 2022 holiday programme, which supplemented existing local holiday food and activity programmes.

Summary of action undertaken in 2022-23

Funded Early Learning and Childcare (ELC)

All three and four year olds in Scotland, and those two year olds who need it most, continue to be eligible for 1140 hours of funded early learning and childcare. This isn’t dependent on the working status of their parent or carer - putting children first.

We recognise that high-quality, affordable, and accessible childcare is an important part of our national mission to tackle child poverty, and we are continuing to work with partners to maximise uptake of the existing offer of funded ELC for all eligible two year olds. Whilst we have seen an increase in take up we are committed to going further. This includes finalising the necessary data sharing arrangements to allow us to better identify eligible households to promote uptake.

Early findings from our programme of evaluation research suggest that the expansion to 1140 hours is supporting parents to work or look for work. Our ELC parent survey, published in 2022, found that 74% of parents agreed that funded ELC had enabled them to work or look for work and 71% said they had time to think about what they may do in the future. It also showed that 97% of parents and carers who had a three to five year old child in funded ELC were satisfied with the quality of provision.

In addition to maximising uptake of our ELC offer, this year we have begun to review eligibility across both early learning and school age childcare programmes with the aim of developing a set of principles to guide our approach to eligibility. As part of this process, we will consider approaches for eligibility that ensure a simpler, joined up approach for families across programmes.

School Age Childcare

We know that by removing barriers to accessing affordable school age childcare, particularly for families from low-income households, we can help to tackle poverty and increase incomes by supporting parents and carers to access – and sustain – work, training and education. That is why we remain committed to designing and delivering a system of school age childcare that provides care before and after school, all year round, and during the holiday to supports parents, particularly parents on low incomes, to have secure and stable employment.

To ensure this works for children and their families, we are taking a person-centred and place-based approach which means that the system and the services which make up the future school age childcare offer will be co- designed with the people who use them, and the people who deliver and support them. To date this has included a People Panel and co-designing a Children's Charter to inform decision making, design and delivery of our school age childcare system.

Our policy development work is ongoing and we are continuing to test innovative models of school age childcare which are free for families most at risk of living in poverty through our Access to Childcare Fund and Early Adopting Communities projects.

In 2022-23 we awarded £1 million funding to four early adopting communities projects in Clackmannanshire, Dundee City, Glasgow City and Inverclyde Councils to support early delivery of person-centred and community-based school age childcare, designed to meet the needs and deliver to the six priority family types within those communities. The projects are exploring how to deliver multiple supports to families to maximise the benefit of funding school age childcare – including employability support, family support and transport.

Early indications suggest parents accessing the school age childcare may be able to increase their employment hours or access education opportunities as a result of the services provided.

In 2022-23, eight access to childcare fund projects continued to receive support to explore new models of School Age Childcare. These included holiday provision, food support, flexible delivery, specialist services for children with additional support needs, and increasing access to families from the six priority family types.

We also continued to fund two projects with the SCMA and Ayr United Football Academy. The SCMA continued to receive support to develop their, Access 2 Childminding, model, which supported childminders to deliver school age childcare for families on low incomes and supported parents and carers to transition towards employment. Ayr United Football Academy continued to receive support to run an after school and holiday sports club during the Summer, October and Easter holidays for children at four local schools in the most deprived part of South Ayrshire.

Building on the success of the 2021 ‘Get Into Summer’ programme, we invested £10 million into a targeted holiday programme delivered during the 2022 school summer holidays targeted at children and young people from low-income families, particularly the six priority family types. Working in partnership with local authorities, this funding provided holiday childcare, food and activities to those children who would benefit most.

The evaluation report confirms that the funding enabled local authorities and their partner organisations to improve summer provision for children and young people by enhancing existing provision, increasing the reach of existing activities to the target groups and adding new activities to their summer provision. The programme supported families with balancing the costs and challenges associated with the summer holidays and offered participating children and young people more choice and a varied range of activities, resulting in enhanced wellbeing for families.

Priorities for 2023-24

We will further develop our funded early learning and childcare offer for one and two year olds, focusing on those who need it most, and engaging with families, colleagues in the sector and academics to build the evidence base for the new offer.

We will invest a further £15 million to continue to design an all-year-round system of school age childcare, which will be funded for those families on lowest incomes, with a particular focus on reaching the six priority family types.

This will include continued investment in our Access to Childcare Projects and our four early adopting communities, and will support expanding this work into new areas.

We will work with the Scottish Football Association to explore how organised activities for children will form part of our future system of school age childcare, to better understand how activities-based clubs can improve outcomes for families on low incomes by supporting parents into work, training, studying or facilitating respite, where it’s needed.

£4.5 million of capital funding will help local authorities provide school age childcare and holiday clubs, targeted to help those from low income household.

Case study: Childcare early adopting communities project – Linlathen

The early adopting communities project in Dundee is situated in Linlathen, one of the most deprived areas in Dundee. Specific school age childcare needs have been identified in the Lilnlathen area to create opportunities for employment activity and improve outcomes for the whole family.

The project is taking a place-based, person-centred approach to providing funded childcare places before and after school and during the holidays through a range of regulated and activities-based provision. 30 families (who have been identified as one or more of the priority family types) have been supported with fully funded school age childcare places. In addition, holistic family support has been provided through a range of services, to support family wellbeing and to create employability opportunities.

Children and families within the Linlathen area are at the heart of this project, listening to their needs and involving them in co-design activity is integral to the person-centred approach. Children have been central to designing what is on offer in terms of activities during term time and holiday periods, and family journeys have been gathered to understand the impact that this childcare offer has had on their lives.

This Early Adopting Communities Project has been working closely with the Dundee Pathfinder programme, linking up services to work with families who are living in poverty in order to provide tailored support and positive pathways for parents and carers in their readiness for work, training or study or to support respite. This is underlining the need to combine employability support with a more accessible childcare offer for families.

Parents and children who have been accessing school age childcare through this project have recognised the benefits to the whole family. Parents and carers have been able to secure or sustain employment where childcare costs had previously presented major barriers to that. Children have been able to access a wide range of activities including learning new skills and developing social connections. The inclusion of food and healthy snacks has also been welcomed.

Promoting the project across sectors and collaborating with community organisations on the ground has been key to reaching the right families at the right time to provide support with pre-employability, skills development and provision of flexible and accessible childcare which meets their needs.

D. Enhancing access to and the affordability of public transport

In line with the ambitious vision for Scotland’s transport system, set out in our National Transport Strategy, we have continued to take a range of actions to improve the access, affordability and sustainability of transport infrastructure in Scotland. This includes continuing to invest in concessionary travel schemes, with over 2.1 million people across Scotland benefitting from free bus travel, including young people under the age of 22; progressing the Fair Fares Review; providing free bikes to school age children; and, investment in the Network Support Grant (NSG) helping to keep bus networks more extensive and fares lower than would otherwise be the case.

Impact summary

  • Between January 2022 and March 2023, over 56 million free journeys have been made by under 22s and two-thirds (66%) of eligible young people are already benefitting from concessionary bus travel.
  • Almost 75% of 12-15 year olds and 77% of 16-21 year olds have a valid card for concessionary travel.
  • Of the journeys made, around 60% were taken by those aged 16-21, showing huge interest and usage of the scheme and representing significant cost savings for young people accessing education and work.
  • Analysis from the Child Poverty Action Group estimates this could save families £3,000 by the time each child turns 18 as a result of concessionary travel.
  • Our free bike pilots delivered 3,800 bikes and safety equipment, including 51 adapted cycles, to children between August 2021 and August 2022. 3,000 of these were delivered in 2022-23.

Summary of action undertaken in 2022-23

Across the reporting year we have continued to progress the Fair Fares Review, considering both the cost and availability of services and the range of discounts and concessionary schemes which are available on all modes including bus, rail and ferry. Building on the wide ranging engagement undertaken with stakeholders, we commissioned the Poverty Alliance to create and deliver a series of eight engagement workshops to ensure that the lived experiences of those experiencing poverty and related issues are captured and inform the outcomes of the review. The Fair Fares Review will report by the end of 2023, recommending a package of measures which can be considered for implementation from 2024-25 and onwards.

Following the launch of the under 22s concessionary travel scheme in January 2022, Transport Scotland launched a marketing campaign, in Autumn 2022, to increase awareness, understanding and interest in the scheme. A further “Back to Bus” marketing campaign ran between March and May 2023 to encourage bus travel, with further information on the benefits of bus travel published at choosethebus.scot.

Together with partners, we successfully completed the pilot phase of nine projects focused on supporting access to free bikes for children whose families cannot afford them. Transport Scotland completed their assessment of the projects, with the final evaluation report published in January 2023. The nine pilot projects led by Cycling Scotland have developed a proposal for a national roll out, which has been funded and is now underway.

Our work on the next generation of digital travel data systems will help to ensure high quality information is available for users to plan their journey across all public transport, including enhanced fare and real time information. We completed our tender procurement process in February 2023 and the delivery phase will commence in 2023-24.

In relation to Demand Responsive Transport (DRT), Shetland’s Transport Partnership (ZetTrans) initial DRT study would appear to indicate that for some of the more sparsely populated areas it would be challenging to deliver a financially viable DRT project. Highland and Islands Transport Partnership (HITRANS) continue to see positive impacts from the rollout of their DRT software with operators in Highland through their GO-HI Mobility as a Service app. We are also awaiting the outcomes of work carried out by Collaborative Mobility UK (CoMoUK) to complete a wider review of existing and planned DRT services in Scotland which will help to inform future DRT policy.

Priorities for 2023-24

  • The Fair Fares Review will report by the end of 2023 and will recommend a package of measures which can be considered for implementation from 2024-25 and onwards. These will provide opportunities to address the wider issues for the cost and availability of public transport services across all modes of public transport.
  • Following the freeze of Scotrail fares last year, a pilot for the removal of peak-time rail fares will run for six months starting October 2023, as part of the Fair Fares Review.
  • Together with a range of public and private sector organisations and users, we will deliver a ‘1 year after’ review of the under 22 concessionary travel scheme to look at effectiveness of the scheme. A report detailing the findings of the evaluation is due to be published later in the year.
  • We will provide £900,000 through the Free Bikes Partnership Fund to issue school age children with free bikes. The fund will be distributed to partners who will launch local interventions aimed at delivering bikes/access to bikes to young people.
  • We are engaging with local authority representatives to develop the Community Bus Fund, providing £0.75 million in resource and £5 million in capital in 2023- 24.
  • We will commence delivery of the next generation of digital travel data system to enhance journeys planners and travel information, including for Traveline Scotland and third-party journey planners.

E. Person centred support

A key commitment in ‘Best Start, Bright Futures’ is supporting the transformation of services to be more person-centred and joined up to focus on meeting the needs of individuals or families who require support rather than on the needs of the service providing it. This approach is a central theme across the delivery plan with specific activity commenced to accelerate this transformation in, for example, children’s services, problematic substance use and mental health support.

Impact Summary

  • Invested £32 million of Whole Family Wellbeing Funding in Children’s Services Planning Partnerships to build local service capacity and transform family support services.
  • An additional 720 young people mentored, 539 supported via group work activity and 208 supported with leadership, with 959 volunteer mentors recruited to the Scottish Mentoring and Leadership Programme (SMLP), co-funded with The Hunter Foundation.
  • In total over the first two years of delivery SMLP has mentored more than 1,200 young people through the support of over 1,800 volunteer mentors.
  • Launched Columba 1400’s young person’s leadership academy in 21 new schools with more than 200 young people taking part in a young person’s leadership academy.
  • Between July and December 2022, more than 45,000 children, young people and their family members accessed our community-based mental health support. This was in addition to the over 1,400 grassroots community projects supported in 2022-23 through our Communities Mental Health and Wellbeing Fund for adults.
  • Early reporting for the Promise Partnership Fund suggests improvement in capacity and participation of children and young people as part of funded projects.
  • Supported more families to stay together during alcohol and drug treatment via the creation of specialist residential rehabilitation services, with 12 women and 13 children supported so far.

Summary of action undertaken in 2022-23

The Whole Family Wellbeing Funding (WFWF) is a commitment over the life of this Parliament (2022-2026) to support the whole system transformational change required to reduce the need for crisis intervention, and to shift investment towards prevention and early intervention for families and children in need. Our ambition is that by 2030 at least 5% of all community-based health and social care spend will be on preventative measures.

WFWF has been co-produced with stakeholders, including The Promise Scotland, and focused on provision of support through three distinct strands of activity. This includes provision of £32 million in each year of the funding directly to local areas, with each Children’s Services Planning Partnership (CSPP) responsible for collectively deciding how to spend this allocation. Guidance was developed to direct CSPPs in how to deliver the intention of the funding, including the need to focus on tackling child poverty.

In addition, we are providing up to £6 million in each year of the funding to support the work of CSPPs, including collaborative partnership and support for three CSPPs – East Ayrshire, East Lothian and Glasgow City – to accelerate plans and provide local learning that can be shared nationally. In addition to these CSPP focused activities, we will provide around £22.7 million over the life of the funding to support new, Scottish Government led national policy delivery that will help transform how families are supported.

Our programme of evaluation will help assess how this funding contributes to positive outcomes for children, young people and families, how transformation happens and how transformational capacity is built. It will inform the future development of WFWF to ensure it delivers its intended outcomes as well as supporting learning and transformation activity within and across Scottish Government to improve the quality of family support policy design, development and implementation.

We have also continued to invest in programmes that support care experienced people. This includes continued investment in the Promise Partnership which provides funding to Keep The Promise and to help drive forward change that matters to children, young people, and families. In 2022-23 seven Scotland-wide and 22 local authority projects were funded. A total investment of just over £5 million was made to explore, test, and implement solutions for: a supportive workforce, supportive school structures and youth justice and rights.

In addition to supporting transformational change in CSPPs, we commenced development of the Getting it Right For Everyone (GIRFE) approach, supporting Health and Social Care Partnerships to co-design place-based pathfinders with people with lived experience of issues that can perpetuate ill health and poverty. In 2022-23 we established pathfinders across specific themes – prisons, addiction services, older people and frailty, people registered at deep end GP surgeries and families with multiple and/or complex needs and young people in transition from Getting it Right for Every Child (GIRFEC) to GIRFE. We are testing and developing GIRFE in local areas, with practitioners and with the people the initiative is designed to benefit, to understand how it will be interpreted and implemented in different contexts.

In early 2023, we launched ‘Inclusion Health Action in General Practice’ (IHAGP) with funding of £300,000 to 81 general practices serving communities in the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde area with the highest levels of poverty and disadvantage. This funding enables practices to take practical action to support their patients and will help reduce pressure on other parts of the health and care system.

We have taken forward action to support five health boards to further integrate their problematic substance use and mental health services to better join up support for those affected by drug use. Over this Parliamentary term more than £8.5 million has been made available to support the establishment of Harper House, which can support between 60 and 80 single parent families or couples annually through recovery along with their children, and more than £5.5 million, in conjunction with WFWF, to support the establishment of two houses at Aberlour specifically designed to support women and their children through recovery.

In the second year of the Communities Mental Health and Wellbeing Fund for adults, £15 million was made available to over 1,400 community projects, many of which focused on supporting low income groups and responses to the cost of living crisis. This included support on finances and support to deliver combined interventions that addressed both mental health and financial support needs. Funding aimed to support and promote good mental health and wellbeing and increase access to help, advice and support including for those in distress. Of over 1,400 projects funded in 2022-23, around half of these (723 projects) included a focus on addressing poverty and inequality and nearly half also included a specific focus on people facing socio-economic disadvantage. In addition, 24% of funded projects were supporting people from at least one of six priority family types at higher risk of child poverty, with most commonly targeted families being lone parents and families with a disabled family member.

Across all of our work, we recognise the importance of the third sector in delivering person-centred support to people across Scotland. We recognise that the third sector needs stability and the opportunity for longer term planning and development, and are committed to progressing a Fairer Funding approach for the third sector. As part of this, in 2023-24 we will continue to develop elements of Fairer Funding including prompt notification of funding, outcome based flexible funding and proportionate administration around applications and reporting.

Priorities for 2023-24

  • We will continue to implement WFWF, including establishing a national learning into action network and working with a smaller number of CSPPs to provide intensive support to drive whole system change.
  • We will continue to develop the GIRFE approach and develop a National Toolkit that will support wider implementation.
  • We will continue to develop plans to best use the resources available to grow community mental health resilience and direct social prescribing.
  • Through continuing our investment of £2 million to Health Improvement Scotland (HIS), we will create new models of care for people with co-occurring mental health and substance use conditions by April 2024.
  • We have committed £15 million for a third year of funding of the Communities Mental Health and Wellbeing Fund which will have a continued focus on responding to the cost crisis and supporting those facing socio-economic disadvantage.
  • We will provide local authorities with a further £15 million to invest in community-based mental health and wellbeing support for children and young people.
  • A further round of the Promise Partnership Fund was launched in May and awards will be confirmed in Autumn 2023.
  • An additional £1 million in funding will support Inclusion Health Action in General Practice.

Case study – local use of WFWF

Investment of WFWF is supporting CSPPs to take locally tailored approaches which are responsive to the needs of the communities they serve. The examples below focus on three local approaches which build on learning, partnerships and positive action taken in recent years:

Fife – Preventing need for emergency care

A gap analysis of children’s services performance in the previous two years informed Fife’s decisions about how to use WFWF to improve support to children, young people, and families – with the CSPP agreeing a focus on preventing children and young people being taken into emergency care.

After interrogating available data, it was identified that the absence of qualified staff working out-of-hours was a weakness in current service provision. Backed by investment from WFWF, service managers worked with stakeholders from the police, children’s social care, education and Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) to design a new residential service for families with children over 12. The new service ensures outreach workers are on call 24/7 to deal with emergencies as they arise, helping provide the right support to families at the right time.

North Ayrshire – Family Centred Wellbeing Service

During the pandemic, North Ayrshire hosted community partnership forums to encourage cross-agency conversations about strengthening services for families, with a focus on engaging social workers delivering support in community centres.

Continuing these forums, with a focus on WFWF activity, the CSPP agreed to spend half their WFWF funding on expanding the existing Family Centred Wellbeing Service (previously called Snap) into other rural areas. The Service provides family group work and one-to-one parent intervention based on referrals of disengaged children at school, including for example, children with low school attendance or family relationship concerns.

Delivered in partnership with health and social care, health, education, social work and the third sector, performance monitoring suggests the approach is resulting in fewer referrals into statutory services.

Aberdeen City – single referral system

Aberdeen City aims to minimise duplication and inefficiencies in support provision by developing a single referral system for use across all public services, commissioned services, and third sector partners.

Supported by WFWF, they have contracted an external company to create an online portal that will allow staff across all services to have an overview of all available interventions. This will include how to access support, and to monitor the use of support. The portal is due to launch in summer 2023.

F. Enhancing support through social security

We are committed to delivering an effective, accessible, and compassionate social security system that treats everyone with dignity, fairness and respect. This significant investment in the people of Scotland is key to our national mission to tackle child poverty as it provides vital financial support to households, including those struggling because of the cost of living crisis.

Whilst we are limited in our ability to lift people out of poverty through social security, with key benefits including Universal Credit reserved to the UK Government, we are using the powers we do have to tackle child poverty as far as possible. This includes introducing and rolling out benefits only available in Scotland, including our game-changing Scottish Child Payment, uprating Scottish benefits to ensure they keep their value in the face of rising inflation, and investing in benefit take-up, ensuring people are able to access the support they are entitled to.

Impact Summary

  • As of end March 2023, 303,000 children were in receipt of the Scottish Child Payment, with almost £190 million paid to families in 2022-23.
  • Over £92 million of Scottish Child Payment Bridging Payments were awarded to families in 2022, with almost 143,000 school age children benefitting from a double Winter payment of £260 made in December 2022.
  • Between April and 30 November 2022, £21.3 million has been paid to clients for Best Start Grant and Best Start Foods.
  • £150 Cost of Living payment made to an estimated 1.85 million households in receipt of Council Tax Reduction and those in Council Tax Bands A-D, providing overall relief to the value of over £273 million.
  • As of 31 March 2023, it is estimated that 62,325 children were in receipt of Child Disability Payment. Between July 2021 and March 2023 £204.9 million of Child Disability Payments were issued.
  • As of 31 January 2023, 23,660 people were in receipt of Adult Disability Payment, and between March 2022 and 31 January 2023 £33.3 million of Adult Disability Payment were issued.
  • A total of 26,555 Child Winter Heating Assistance payments were issued for winter 2022-23 with a total value of £5.7 million.
  • Between April 2022 and March 2023 we made available over £84 million to local authorities to spend on Discretionary Housing Payments, with £2.6 million of this to mitigate the UK Government’s benefit cap as fully as possible within devolved powers from 1 January 2023.
  • Between 1 April and December 2022, Local Authorities had spent £41.4 million on the Scottish Welfare Fund (SWF). Since the SWF began in 2013, in excess of £380 million has been paid to more than 500,000 households.
  • Our package of five family benefits comprising the Scottish Child Payment, three Best Start Grant payments and Best Start Foods could be worth around £10,000 by the time an eligible child turns 6 - compared to less than £2,000 for eligible families in England & Wales - and over £20,000 by the time an eligible child is 16.
  • Free school meals were provided to all 280,723 children in primaries 1-5 and in special schools, as well as eligible pupils from P6 through to S6, saving parents an estimated £400 per eligible child per year.
  • As of 30 April, 394,135 low income households had received our new Winter Heating Payment, backed by investment of £19.7 million.

Summary of action undertaken in 2022-23

Throughout the year we have continued to take direct action to increase the support available to families through Scottish Government benefits and payments.

We increased the value of Scottish Child Payment by 150% in just 8 months, increasing the payment from £10 to £20 in April 2022 and again to £25 in November 2022. In addition to more than doubling the value, we extended eligibility for Scottish Child Payment by increasing the age limit to include those eligible aged 6-15, with an additional 258,000 children becoming eligible for the payment in 2023-24 according to the Scottish Fiscal Commission's May 2023 forecast.

Ahead of the expansion of the Scottish Child Payment, we continued to deliver immediate support to low incomes families with school age children through Bridging Payments, and worked with our local authority partners to direct recipients to claim the Scottish Child Payment when applications opened. Recognising the intense financial pressure families, and in particular low income families, were facing as a result of the cost of living crisis we doubled the final Bridging Payment to £260 in December 2022, with up to £650 paid per child in 2022.

To provide immediate, direct support to households during the cost of living crisis, we delivered a £150 payment to all households in receipt of Council Tax Reduction and those in Council Tax Bands A-D, across all 32 local authorities, estimated to have helped 1.85 million households and provided overall relief to the value of over £273 million.

We are delivering on our 2021-22 Programme for Government commitment to explore ways to automate payment for Scottish Government social security benefits. Regulation changes have enabled us, from 28 November, to award Best Start Grant Early Learning Payment and School Age Payment automatically to eligible families in receipt of Scottish Child Payment, without the need to apply. Not only has this action made it easier for families but it also helps us to maximise take-up. We are continuing to explore opportunities to further automate our five family payments.

We are making significant changes to Best Start Foods and from February 2024 we will remove all income thresholds, increasing eligibility for this Scottish Government benefit to an additional 20,000 pregnant mums and children under three. We made a commitment in ‘Best Start, Bright Futures’ to move to a cash payment for Best Start Foods, however, operating under an increasingly challenging programme of delivery which will see us deliver several new benefits, including Carer Support Payment, in the coming years we will not be able to move to a cash payment in 2023-24. Ongoing work in this area is

complex and remains a priority within our ambitious benefit delivery programme. We remain committed to moving to a cash payment, we are currently scoping when this can be done and are confident we will be able to make this change in the future. Best Start Foods continues to remove the stigma associated with the Healthy Start Voucher scheme by using a pre-loaded payment card that works like a regular bank card.

We know that our five family payments are making a difference for families with children. The evaluations of each of the payments in this package of support have shown they are all having a positive impact on the drivers of child poverty reduction, preventing respondents from going into debt or having to cut down on other essential household spending, such as for food and bills.

Through our evaluations we heard that Best Start Grant was easing financial strain on low-income families at key transitional stages for their children, Scottish Child Payment led to more money being spent on children, including for essentials like food, family day trips, and medical items for families with disabled children. Best Start Foods guarantees that recipients can afford essential foods even when money is tight and has freed up money for other costs such as household bills. We can be confident that this package of payments has led to positive outcomes for children and their parents and carers alike and will continue to do so.

Replacing Personal Independence Payments (PIP), the new Adult Disability Payment (ADP) was launched in pilot areas in March 2022 and, as of 29 August 2022, is now being delivered nationally. The case transfer process to Child Disability Payment (CDP) for those getting Disability Living Allowance for children is on track and we aim to have the transfer process completed for over 99% of those in receipt of Disability Living Allowance for children by Spring 2023. Recent Client Survey data indicates that recipients of Child Disability Payment found it helped to control their finances and to pay for what they need. We will continue to evaluate Scottish Government disability benefits to understand what is going well and identify next steps, and are planning draft amendment regulations which will come into force in November 2023 to further improve the journey from CDP to ADP.

In February 2023 we started delivery of our new Winter Heating Payment, replacing the DWPs Cold Weather Payment, providing a stable, reliable annual payment which will help low-income households with their heating expenses each winter. In 2022-23 this had a value of £50, next winter the payment rate will be £55.05. Where DWP provided £25 to individuals per cold spell, reaching an average of 185,000 people and investing an average of £8.48 million across each of the past 7 years, our new benefit is expected to reach more than twice the number of people and will be backed by an investment of over £20 million each year – providing vital support toward energy costs.

We want to ensure the Scottish Welfare Fund (SWF) continues to deliver for people in the best way possible. This is why the Scottish Government commissioned an Independent Review into the SWF, which published in March 2023. After a decade in place, it is time to make improvements to ensure the SWF remains a robust and reliable service. An Action Plan is being developed in partnership with stakeholders and is on track to publish by the end of Spring 2023. This will set out key improvements to ensure grants are delivered consistently, effectively and efficiently.

In partnership with local authorities, we have worked to mitigate the benefit cap through Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs). Throughout the year we have worked in partnership to agree new guidance, which has now been issued to support local authorities to use DHP payments to mitigate the UK Government’s benefit cap as fully as possible within devolved powers.

During 2022-23 this was expected to help up to 4,000 families, many of them lone parent households, with around 14,000 children who are disproportionately impacted by the cap, to meet their housing costs.

In addition, we have continued to provide free school meals to all children in primaries 1-5 and in special schools, as well as eligible pupils from P6 through to S6. We also remained committed to the expansion of free school meals through providing £30 million of capital funding to local authorities to support expansion of term time free school meals and £21.75 million to support maintenance of free school meal holiday support for eligible families across 2022-2023.

Priorities for 2023-24

  • We will invest £5.3 billion in social security benefits in 2023-24, over £750 million more than the level of funding we expect to receive from the UK Government.
  • We will invest £1.3 billion in our game-changing Scottish Child Payment over the remainder of this Parliament – which is forecast to lift 50,000 children out of poverty this year.
  • In 2023-24 we will invest £2.7 billion in Adult Disability Payment, enabling disabled people to live full and independent lives.
  • Following the publication of our response to the public consultation, we will build on the progress we have made in developing Carer Support Payment (formerly Scottish Carer’s Assistance) policy in consultation with our lived experience panel and launch in pilot areas by the end of 2023, with full national introduction planned for Spring 2024. We are also committed to using the introduction of Carer Support Payment to help carers find out about wider support which they are entitled to.
  • We will progress the introduction of a Care Leaver Payment in Summer 2023 to inform its interim and long-term delivery and will draft legislation to enable the payment.
  • We uprated all devolved benefits in April 2023 by the September rate of the CPI (10.1%) at a cost of around £430 million, except for Scottish Child Payment, which was uprated early.
  • We will maintain the Scottish Welfare Fund at £41 million and publish an Action Plan responding to the Independent Review by the end of Spring 2023 and take forward improvements in partnership with stakeholders including COSLA, local authority delivery partners, public and third sector bodies.
  • In 2023-24 we are making £83.7 million available to local authorities to spend on Discretionary Housing Payment, this includes £69.7 million to fully mitigate the bedroom tax, helping over 91,000 households in Scotland to sustain their tenancies; £6.2 million to mitigate the UK Government’s unfair benefit cap as fully as possible within devolved powers; and investment to mitigate against the damaging impact of other UK Government welfare cuts, including the ongoing freeze to Local Housing Allowance rates.
  • We will continue to explore further opportunities for automation – including further appropriate and proportionate data sharing with partners across the range of systems that support Scotland’s population, such as Local Authorities – and will assess the most impactful options for signposting activity to maximise opportunities for benefit take-up, minimising barriers to access and ensuring that support available reaches those who need it most.

G. Ensuring access to warm and affordable homes

Ensuring everyone has access to a warm, safe, affordable home is a critical element of our approach to tackling child poverty, and in the context of the cost of living crisis this has become even more vital, with ever greater pressures being placed on already stretched household finances. We acted across 2022- 23 to reduce household costs for those most affected by the cost of living crisis, using the Emergency Budget Review to reallocate resources to provide immediate, direct support those who needed it most and have provided support for security for tenants in terms of rent caps, homelessness support and the provision of affordable homes.

Impact Summary

  • Between April and December 2022, an estimated 2,127 households with children have been helped into affordable housing through the Affordable Housing Supply Programme.
  • In the same period, we delivered 6,381 affordable homes, of which 5,124 were for social rent. We also commenced work on 4,358 site starts and approved 3,323 homes.
  • Early estimates suggest that the £20 million Fuel Insecurity Fund has supported tens of thousands of households with fuel costs, many including children, full analysis will be available in Summer 2023.
  • We increased capacity of Home Energy Scotland to support 130,000 households across Scotland with home energy advice, including 71,000 vulnerable households, with in-depth energy advice tailored to their needs.
  • Over 5,000 households were helped to have a warmer and more affordable means to heat homes following the installation of heating and insulation measures through Warmer Homes Scotland - saving an average of £160 per year on their energy bills.
  • Over 450,000 households received support through Council Tax Reduction (CTR), saving recipients on average over £750 a year. Latest estimates suggest 98,390 households with child dependents received CTR as of March 2023.

Summary of action undertaken in 2022-23

In October 2022, to protect those living in rented accommodation, the Scottish Parliament passed emergency legislation to introduce a rent cap, initially set at 0% rent increase and a moratorium on evictions until 31 March 2023, which was extended until 30 September 2023 due to the ongoing cost of living crisis. On 1 June 2023 we laid regulations for the next phase of the Cost of Living (Tenant Protection) Act that, if passed, will see the emergency measures extended until 31 March 2024.

In addition to emergency action on housing, we have continued to prioritise the supply of affordable homes and action to tackle homelessness, recognising that warm, affordable housing is essential, not just in its own right, but also as a platform from which poverty can be more sustainably tackled.

In line with our commitment to deliver 110,000 affordable energy efficient homes by 2032, we have continued to focus on delivery, working in partnership with local authorities and others to ensure identified housing priorities are met including the delivery of larger family homes where they are needed. The current difficult tendering climate, due to inflation and high costs, has led to a slowing of approvals and starts. We continue to work closely with partners to progress as many approvals and starts as quickly as is practically possible. This includes supporting local authorities and registered social landlords to acquire existing properties to support identified needs in terms of house type, tenure and location.

We have invested almost £10 million in 2022-23 on preventing and responding to homelessness. This includes £8 million across all local authorities to support the implementation of Rapid Rehousing Transition Plans (RRTPs), over £1 million through the Third Sector Homelessness Fund, almost £0.5 million for the Homelessness Prevention Fund as well as various grants to other third sector organisations working to tackle homelessness.

We have continued to scale up Housing First programmes to break the cycle of homelessness and we are making steady progress in developing prevention pathways for the groups most at risk of homelessness. Where homelessness cannot be prevented, rapid rehousing is our primary response to homelessness. We have allocated £52.5 million as part of a multi-year funding package for the delivery of RRTPs and Housing First. The transition to rapid rehousing in Scotland is well underway – all 32 local authorities have RRTPs in place, and more than 1,400 Housing First tenancies have started across 26 local authorities.

We continued to develop Scottish Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) guidance, recognising the potential for DHPs to be a more powerful tool to reduce poverty-related homelessness, and we plan to publish the first draft for consultation with local authorities in 2023.

The Council Tax Reduction Scheme continues to ensure that nobody in Scotland should have to meet a council tax liability they cannot be expected to afford. Over 450,000 households receive some level of Council Tax Reduction, and on average recipients save over £750 a year. A reduction can be anything up to and including 100% reduction, and data from March 2022 shows that 371,410 households received a 100% reduction and so did not have to pay any council tax.

Recognising the specific needs of different communities, we have continued to work with Aberdeen City, Clackmannanshire and Fife Councils and have identified new projects in Highland, Perth and Kinross and South Lanarkshire, to improve housing provision for our Gypsy/Traveller communities. We have also developed our Remote, Rural and Islands Housing Action Plan to ensure that we meet the housing needs of these communities, and will publish the plan in Summer 2023.

As set out in ‘Best Start, Bright Futures’, we acknowledge that renters tend to have lower household incomes, higher levels of poverty and are more vulnerable to economic shocks. We remain committed to taking action to reduce costs for families in the private rented sector. Whilst the focus in the past year has been on emergency legislation, longer term reforms will be progressed in the coming year.

Alongside our focus on affordable homes and preventing homelessness, we have increased our action to reduce energy costs and tackle fuel poverty. Our Fuel Insecurity Fund (FIF) provided a critical lifeline to thousands of households who were at risk of self-rationing their energy use, self-disconnecting entirely, or who could not afford their energy bills. Recognising the acute pressure low income households were facing with rising energy bills, we initially doubled our investment in the FIF from £10 million at the start of 2022-23 to £20 million through the Emergency Budget Review. To date tens of thousands of people have been helped through support from the FIF delivered by our trusted third sector partner network, including Fuel Bank Foundation, Scottish Federation of Housing Associations, and Advice Direct Scotland.

We provided £42 million for the Home Energy Scotland (HES) Loans and Grants scheme, doubling the 2021-22 investment and we have expanded HES advice services to provide more free, impartial advice on how to save money on energy bills. Through this investment we increased the reach of the HES Service, resulting in support for over 130,000 households across Scotland last year. As part of this, we doubled the specialist in-depth advice offered by the service for vulnerable households, helping 71,000 vulnerable households with energy advice tailored to their needs. Energy cost saving training was also provided to 200 local advice providers and Citizens Advice Bureau staff.

In addition, Warmer Homes Scotland has helped around 5,000 households, including those with a pregnant women or child under 16 in receipt of an income-based benefit, to have warmer and more affordable means to heat homes following the installation of heating and insulation measures - saving an average of £160 per year on their energy bills.

Priorities for 2023-24

  • We have tripled the FIF to £30 million for 2023-24, in order to extend immediate crisis funding to those households most in need, as well as building in a more sustainable and holistic approach towards tackling fuel poverty and wider poverty in general.
  • Up to £25 million will be made available from our Affordable Housing Supply Programme budget 2023-2028 to support local authorities and registered social landlords to identify properties in rural areas to help meet the housing requirements of key workers.
  • We will extend our Gypsy/Traveller accommodation support by beginning work with Highland and Perth and Kinross and publishing a Toolkit to support other local authorities deliver housing that responds to the needs of their Gypsy/Traveller communities.
  • Guided by recommendations made by an expert working group, we are committed to taking urgent action to reduce the number of households in temporary accommodation and the length of time they stay there. We will set out our plans before the end of June 2023.
  • We will continue work on a New Deal for Tenants and private rented sector reforms, including a Housing Bill to progress rent control, and to introduce new public sector homelessness duties.

H. Maximising income

In the face of the cost of living crisis, demand for income maximisation services has grown across the country. We have sought to meet this increasing demand and ensure that the people who most need support are able to access it, in a time and place that suits them, and that help provided ensures people receive all the support they are entitled to. In particular, we have continued to implement our benefit take-up strategy and invest in debt and welfare advice services to enhance the support available to families to maximise their income.

Impact summary

  • Over 20,000 people directly benefitted from nearly £1.8 million invested in additional food insecurity responses.
  • Over 30,000 clients, of which 6,000 were priority family groups, were supported by the Money Talk Team Service. 7,000 of these client achieved financial gains totalling £20.7 million, 1,700 priority family clients recorded financial gains totalling more than £5.2 million.
  • Since the Money Talk Team service began in November 2018 until March 2023, more than 84,000 clients have been supported. Of those, more than 27,000 are better off by over £64 million.
  • Approximately 3,000 clients were supported with unmanageable debt of over £8 million, through debt advice provided by the Money Talk Team - over £2 million in financial gains were achieved for these clients.
  • Over 60,000 people were helped to manage over £380 million in debt, with over £16 million in debt written off.
  • Over 1,200 disabled people were supported to access and apply for Social Security via our Social Security Independent Advocacy Service.
  • 180 young mothers aged 20-25 were enrolled through expanding the Family Nurse Partnership.

Summary of action undertaken in 2022-23

In 2022-23, we provided Citizens Advice Scotland with £2.65 million to deliver the refreshed Money Talk Team service. This amalgamated the Specialist Debt Service, Welfare Reform Mitigation Service and Money Talk Team, and from October 2022 provides income maximisation, welfare and specialist debt advice for clients across Scotland. The new delivery model maximises return on investment and improves outcomes for clients by delivering the service within a holistic advice model.

We continued to fund the provision of free debt advice, through our investment of £6.5 million from debt advice levy funding, and continued to fund the Child Poverty Action Group’s (CPAG) second tier advice line, supporting advisers from other organisations with the most complex advice queries.

We understand how important it is to simplify access to advice services, and proactively reach families through services they already use and trust. That is why in 2022-23 we continued to embed advice into existing services used by families, in particular for families with new babies and young children.

Our continued investment in the Universal Health Visiting Pathway (UHVP) and Family Nurse Partnership (FNP) programme is embedding routine enquiry around money and household income as standard into both these services that support families with a new baby. We have begun the process of expanding the FNP local pathways to all first-time mothers aged 21 and under, and to first time mothers aged 25 and under who are care experienced or from the most deprived communities. As a result, between April 2022 and March 2023 180 clients aged 20-25 were enrolled into the programme, and we expect to support up to an additional 500 clients by the time the expansion is complete in 2025. Around 1 in 5 mothers who participate in the programme are care experienced, and evaluation has found that only around half of the mothers are receiving welfare support when they enter the programme. This increases over the duration of the programme, suggesting that the support improves awareness and provides mothers with information needed to take up benefits they are entitled to.

To further increase access to advice in accessible settings, we invested £1.76 million in Welfare Advice and Health Partnerships (WAHP), placing advice workers in 180 GP surgeries in Scotland’s most deprived areas, including 30 in remote and island communities. This has expanded access to professional advice provided by a dedicated Welfare Rights Advisor, ensuring access to money advice is increased within services that people already attend, and that it is in a safe and non-stigmatising environment.

Beyond access to advice, we have continued to take action to promote the uptake of Scottish Government benefits. The Social Security Independent Advocacy Service has continued to support disabled people to engage with Social Security Scotland. This free and independent service is delivered by VoiceAbility and to date they have supported over 1,200 people to access and apply for Scottish social security support.

To make it easier for people to apply for Scottish Government benefits, we have improved the accessibility of our digital applications, making it easier for those using assistive technology, and we have continued to embed our local delivery service, across all 32 local authorities, to provide in person support for applicants to complete both paper and digital applications. We have also implemented earlier signposting on a number of our benefit applications, meaning people know their eligibility much sooner, which enables social security advisors to provide earlier signposting and support for those who may be ineligible and suggest alternatives.

To explore how we can further improve benefit take up, we are progressing work to develop and improve approaches to Signposting, Referral and Automation to ensure people are able to access the full range of support available to them with minimal burden.

Alongside material changes to the administration of payments we are placing an enhanced focus on strategic communication, with greater action to ensure households across Scotland are accessing the support they are entitled to.

September 2022 saw the launch of our Cost of Living portal, bringing together information on benefits, grants, and support services in one place. An integrated marketing campaign ran to increase awareness of the support available, motivating action amongst low income households with little or no savings to take up this support and help tackle the stigma that still serves as a barrier to benefit uptake for many. 66% of the target audience reported being aware of the campaign and 59% claimed to have taken an action as a result. This action included going to the cost of living portal, with 316,261 visits made from launch to 31 March 2023, directing people to support with money, fuel and food costs.

Despite these efforts, we recognised that the cost of living crisis resulted in unmanageable pressure on many households, particularly due to inflation increasing food costs to unseen levels. That is why in this reporting year, we invested nearly £1.8 million in additional food insecurity responses with an emphasis on cash grants and shopping cards, so that dignity and choice remain key to our approach.Interim reporting indicates that over 20,000 people benefited directly, and that the funds supported a further 570 organisations.

Priorities for 2023-24

  • We will invest at least £11.7 million in free income maximisation, debt and welfare advice so that people, including the priority families, have access to advice that meets their needs and through the channel that they prefer.
  • As part of this we will further increase advice delivery in health, education and community settings through a new funding programme with Advice UK. We will invest up to £1 million in this programme in 2023-24 and will also explore further expansion of advice provision in accessible settings over the next two years.
  • We will continue to expand access to the FNP pathway, in line with our ambition to expand to all young first-time mothers aged 21 and under, and to first time mothers aged 25 and under who are care experienced or from the most deprived communities.
  • We will provide additional professional learning opportunities to health visitors and Family Nurses to ensure they are well placed to support the families they serve to maximise household income.
  • Following publication of our plan towards ending the need for food banks, which set out our human rights approach to responding to food insecurity, we will work together with partners to take forward the actions and improve the response to crisis.

Case study: Supporting care experienced parents

A collaboration of Care Visions, Scottish Attainment in Action, and Early Years Scotland received investment to establish a completely new approach to supporting families with care experience. From this the Village was born.

The Village is an accessible, independent, online community which provides knowledge and support to care experienced parents and parents-to-be. Designed to break down stigma, with parents choosing to join with no referrals needed. Once joined, they are linked with a Village team member who can offer a listening ear, specific advice, or general support.

Parents are welcomed into a trauma-informed, safe, and confidential space where support and guidance are made available in a manner which best suits those accessing it. As well as the advice and information, the provision of practical support has made a significant difference to families. Ensuring that families are accessing financial support they are eligible for has helped to maximise their incomes. Some Villagers have noted that without this, they would have had to seek to borrow money from friends or family, which can be embarrassing and can cause fractious relationships, or take out pay day loans, causing more financial damage overall.

Members of the village said:

“It’s a relief some days, knowing there’s someone there who cares. The best thing is that the girls check in on me, just to make sure I’m ok.”

“The support I’ve had has been incredible. The girls have answered questions I’ve had at random times - that maybe doesnt seem like much but to me it’s huge.”

“The team actually help and make you feel like part of a family. I’m a single mum with barely any support at all. I’m so grateful for the ladies who are there when I need a chat or a rant! Nothing is too big or too small and I love that about them.”

I. Place based transformation

‘Best Start, Bright Futures’ recognised that, alongside the individual policies that form the building blocks for tackling poverty, more work is needed to transform systems, to make support easier to access and to deliver whole system, person-centred support that is responsive to local needs and achieves better outcomes. Throughout 2022-23 we have continued to build on the work of the Social Innovation Partnership (SIP); established new and innovative place based partnerships in Dundee and Glasgow and within our rural and island communities, to robustly test, evaluate and learn what it takes to achieve the transformational change required. The Pathfinders are underpinned by ongoing evaluation to generate evidence and learning to inform and improve our delivery approach.

Updates below focus on the four distinct elements of this work in 2022-23.

Impact Summary

  • SIP delivery partners provided a wide range of support to around 3,000 people, with external evaluation finding a positive impact on people’s mental health; emotional wellbeing and social connection with evidence of improvement in their material circumstances.
  • Since October 2022, 528 people have received person centred support through the key worker network established by the Dundee Pathfinder partnership. Of these 135 people have benefitted from tailored employability and/or upskilling support, and of those supported, 20% have either gained employment, sought to start a business or entered further education. In addition over £155,500 in financial gains have been reported for people supported, including over £48,500 in benefit uptake and over £78,000 in fuel support.
  • In Glasgow, between May 2022 and the end of April 2023, 1,342 people were supported through ongoing full holistic case management support. Thousands more families who did not require full case management were supported and referred to services by the pathfinder. 90% of service users felt their situation had improved and were better able to cope as a result of the support received.
  • Over 380 community led projects funded through the Rural Community Led Local Development (CLLD) Funding are leveraging a Social Return on Investment value of over £6.5 million against the UN (United Nations) Sustainable Development goal of ‘No Poverty’, ‘Zero Hunger’ and ‘Decent Work and Economic Growth’.

Summary of action undertaken in 2022-23

Social Innovation Partnership

Building on the existing work of the SIP, our delivery partners reached around 3,000 people in 2022-23. This included a range of support such as creating welcoming community spaces where people can develop new relationships and providing much deeper person-centred support that includes advice and advocacy, childcare, employability and wellbeing.

Through our Family Wellbeing Partnership with Clackmannanshire Council, we have continued to support work to create the enabling conditions to support transformation. In the past year, a further 64 colleagues have taken part in a programme of values-based leadership to explore the barriers to change and their role in overcoming them, taking the total number to 150 over 2 years.

This is supporting service redesign and delivery in a number of key areas in Clackmannanshire including employability, multi-agency support and enhanced collaborations and partnership working to create deep, holistic support pathways for people.


Working across organisational boundaries, the Scottish Government, DWP and Dundee City Council are testing out different ways of working and improving services which support a whole person and whole family support model for low income families in Dundee.

Early learning from a test and learn support pilot for 97 lone parents across the city quickly confirmed that, for many families, employability can be too narrow a focus for support. As a result, the Pathfinder adopted a more person-centred approach, targeted at families within the Linlathen area of the city. Partners adopted a relational keyworker model which provides a long-term trusted support network for families, in their homes or at a weekly drop-in where they can engage with a number of partners and services depending on their needs and what matters to them. As the pathfinder’s reputation grows through word-of-mouth there has been increasing engagement with residents outside the targeted group and families beyond the Linlathen area.

As relationships deepen and whole family supports are built, the pathfinder is extending its reach to meet those needs, using the partnership’s networks to strengthen connections to broader employability support, working with the Local Employability Partnership in Dundee and third sector consortium, specifically for the long term economically inactive and bringing in health and social care partners to support with mental health needs.


The Scottish Government is working with Glasgow City Council, COSLA and the Improvement Service on a city-wide pathfinder that is integrating child poverty interventions and bringing services together. By connecting citizens to holistic, person-centred, case management support, significant benefits can be delivered.

Key to the approach taken with the Glasgow pathfinder is system change, as well as helping individuals navigate the current system. The pathfinder includes testing at scale a ‘No Wrong Door’ model that will ensure that wherever a person presents themselves to the system, they are provided with holistic support.

The pathfinder team continue to work with a growing range of partners, including colleagues in health and social care to ensure there are clear referral pathways for citizens.

The partnership is continuing to grow and recently secured an Information Sharing Agreement with Police Scotland that will underpin a unique partnership that connects citizens directly from Police Scotland’s Concern Hub with person centred case management support.

Work on reducing systemic barriers to change, including organisational culture, data sharing, and flexibility of funding, is ongoing.

Rural and Islands

In addition to work in Glasgow and Dundee, building on work we commissioned to 'improve our understanding of child poverty in rural and island Scotland' we explored more innovative use of data to target support. Ongoing partnership work between the Scottish Rural Network and the Improvement Service on a ‘A Design Based Approach to Understanding and Tackling Rural Child Poverty’ is further developing data sharing work in rural areas.

In December 2022 we launched the £1.4 million Islands Cost Crisis Emergency Fund to support urgent action to help households through the cost of living crisis. The fund has been used in a range of ways to meet local need, including trailing free breakfasts for school children, free school meal top ups, providing Scotland Loves Local cards to spend in local businesses and supporting third sector organisations with the impact of high electricity costs.

The Rural Community Led Local Development (CLLD) Fund invested £11.6 million in 2022-23 to strengthen the resilience and sustainability of grassroots rural community groups and businesses. Working in partnership with the Poverty Alliance, we strengthened capacity and increased awareness of poverty amongst Local Action Groups allocating this funding to ensure it helped tackle poverty and the cost crisis effectively. Funded projects prioritised local actions to address poverty, support recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, advance equality and inclusion and support a just transition to net zero.

Through research commissioned into the ‘Anchor Project’ on Shetland, we are deepening our understanding of this highly successful, multi-agency, rural child poverty initiative. The Anchor Project wraps support from existing frontline services around the needs of families to directly tackle poverty and inequality, while avoiding the stigma sometimes associated with support provided through other services. By assessing the design and delivery of holistic services at an island-level we aim to highlight how aspects of the process could be applied elsewhere, whether this is on another island, or in rural or urban areas.

Priorities for 2023-24

  • Continue to support the development of holistic, person-centred support by working closely with a range of partners to align and improve public services through reform and to addressing barriers to ensure families flourish.
  • Create further opportunities to learn from the third sector as we develop our unique Scottish approach to place based transformation, building on community based assets and the experience of the sector.
  • We will build on emerging evidence to support targeted scale up to localities who have created enabling conditions for change and share learning through a national collaborative learning network with Improvement Service support.
  • With partners, develop monitoring frameworks and commence the next phase of evaluation by September 2023 focusing on impact, process and value for money.
  • In pursuit of a holistic “tell us once approach”, we will develop solutions for appropriate data sharing arrangements across service providers, while taking all necessary precautions with the security and integrity of the data.
  • We will explore options for supporting more local authorities and health boards to test and scale innovative approaches to tackling child poverty.

Case Studies: Pathfinder approaches in Glasgow and Dundee

Glasgow Helps, a key delivery mechanism of the pathfinder, has supported thousands of people across Glasgow and received positive feedback about the difference it is making.

The work in Glasgow is highlighting practical lessons about characteristics of what works in terms of integrated, person-centred and outcome focussed service provision. It also presents an opportunity for government and partners to resolve issues which have arisen in Glasgow, but also exist elsewhere. These are not simple barriers to overcome, but addressing them will help improve the lives of the people of Scotland.

One parent supported through the service said:

I didn’t know where to go back in June and when Glasgow Helps reached out it changed everything. My eldest son has employment thanks to your support and he is now taking driving lessons, working all sorts of overtime, and saving for a car! I can’t quite believe it

In Dundee, families access Pathfinder support directly through targeted outreach or through a bespoke community hub ‘Brooksbank’ that houses different support services.

Jennifer, a single parent with three children, accessed the service and was directed to financial support available to her, much of which she was previously unaware of. She was supported to make applications for the likes of Dundee City Council’s Fuel Well Scheme and the Home Heating Fund, which resulted in gains of £1,380.

Over time, keyworkers built a trusted relationship with Jennifer and she felt comfortable speaking about other family needs, including concerns about her 18-year-old son who was not in education or employment. This allowed keyworkers to link Jennifer’s son with a Youth Employability Keyworker to discuss his career ambitions – enabling him to participate in a construction and employability programme to secure qualifications and helping him to secure full time work in the sector, with additional support provided to help meet the cost of interview clothes and to cover the cost of lunches until his first wage.


Email: tcpu@gov.scot

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