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Chamber and committees

Question ref. S5W-24018
Asked by: Bob Doris, Glasgow Maryhill and Springburn, Scottish National Party
Date lodged: 25 June 2019

Question

To ask the Scottish Government what assessment it has made of the early introduction of the Scottish Child Payment to the current delivery programme of devolved benefits and Social Security Scotland.

Current status: Answered by Shirley-Anne Somerville on 26 June 2019


Answer

The Scottish Child Payment has the potential to be a transformative measure for children and families in poverty. It is in line with the principles of Scotland’s social security system which includes that social security is an investment in the people of Scotland and is to contribute to reducing poverty in Scotland.Delivery of the Scottish Child Payment will take place at the same time that the Scottish Government is also taking over delivery responsibility for many of the benefits devolved under the Scotland Act 2016, including the complex disability and carer benefits.

As Audit Scotland has recently highlighted, the next phase of devolved benefits delivery will be considerably more challenging and complex. Delivering an additional benefit by the end of 2022, within the lifetime of the current Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan, will be a challenge, but one we believe is well worth it in order to pursue our bold ambitions to reduce child poverty. We have also said that we want to introduce this new payment early for families with a child under 6, to take meaningful early action to reduce child poverty.

In regards to Social Security Scotland, the early introduction of the Scottish Child Payment will mean that there needs to be an increase in the original number of staff to be recruited by Social Security Scotland in order to deliver the new payment. Their on-boarding and training will be incorporated into existing recruitment and estates planning.

In terms of the current delivery programme, the safe and effective delivery of social security remains of the utmost importance. In their recent report, “Social security: Implementing the devolved powers” , Audit Scotland noted that “Given the emphasis on safe and secure delivery and the complexity and scale of work ahead, it is difficult to see how the programme could progress more quickly” (para 94, pg 29). Accordingly, in deciding to take forward such a substantial commitment as the Scottish Child Payment, sooner than planned, we know that we will need to make adjustments to the current social security delivery programme to accommodate the introduction of this new benefit.

We have worked hard to examine the introduction of the Scottish Child Payment in the context of the current delivery programme and we will carry out further formal impact assessment on the delivery of the new payment over the summer. In advance of that, however, we know that there are certain changes that will in all probability need to be made.

Our initial analysis shows there will be an impact on the delivery of two devolved benefits. The introduction of Disability Assistance for Older People will now move into 2021 rather than winter 2020, and it is likely that Scottish Carer’s Allowance will be introduced in early 2022 rather than at the end of 2021. In addition, the transfer of cases from DWP to Social Security Scotland is now likely to take until 2025.

These adjustments will ensure that we are able to provide the new payment to the timescales we have announced today, but also that we will mitigate some of the risks this could create for the wider social security programme.

We remain on track to introduce Funeral Support Payment and Young Carer Grant in 2019; Disability Assistance for Children and Young People in summer 2020; and Disability Assistance for Working Age People, our replacement for Personal Independence Payment, in early 2021.

We believe that these changes provide the right balance between introducing a new benefit that can make a substantial contribution to reducing child poverty, and securing a smooth transition for the other benefits to be delivered.

The following table contains a summary of the changes we anticipate having to make to the previously announced timetable. This will be considered in more detail and dates finalised upon the conclusion of the formal impact assessment and I will update Parliament if these assumptions need to be changed.

The Scottish Child Payment is a major commitment of this Government and Parliament. It has the potential to raise 30,000 children out of poverty and provide vital support to our lowest income families. And while its delivery will be challenging, its potential for helping some of the most vulnerable in our society is great.

We believe that the change in the timetable for benefits delivery is worth it in order to introduce such a visionary, ambitious major policy as the Scottish Child Payment.

Summary of potential changes to timetable for benefits delivery from 2020 on (originally announced in February 2019)

Scottish benefit

Previous delivery

Revised delivery

Best Start Foods

Summer 2019

No change

Funeral Support Payment

Summer 2019

No change

Young Carer Grant

Autumn 2019

No change

Job Grant

As soon as practicable

No change

Disability Assistance for Children & Young People (Child DLA)

Summer 2020

No change

Winter Heating Assistance for those in receipt of the highest component of Disability Assistance for Children and Young People

By end of 2020

No change

Scottish Child Payment early delivery (under 6s)

Work towards introduction by 2022

By March 2021

Disability Assistance for Older People

(Attendance Allowance)

By end of 2020

By 2021

Disability Assistance for Working Age People

(PIP)

Early 2021

No change

Additional payment to carers who look after more than one disabled child

Early 2021

No change

Winter Heating Assistance for over 65s (Winter Fuel Payments)

First payments by end of 2021

No change

Cold Spell Heating Assistance (Cold Weather Payments)

First payments by end of 2021

No change

Scottish Carer’s Allowance

By end of 2021

Early 2022

Scottish Child Payment full rollout (under 16s)

Work towards introduction by 2022

By 2022

 

Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefits

Autumn 2022

No change

Transfer of existing cases from DWP to Social Security Scotland

Expected to be completed in 2024

Expected to be completed in 2025