Question ref. S6W-05686
Asked by: Alexander Burnett, Aberdeenshire West, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party
Date lodged: 11 January 2022
To ask the Scottish Government whether it will review the criteria of qualifying recipients of the Scottish Child Payment and Bridging Payments so that children who are home-schooled are entitled to the equivalent level of welfare support benefit as children who attend school and receive free school meals.
Current status: Answered by Shona Robison on 25 January 2022
The Scottish Child Payment commenced for children under the age of 6 in February 2021 and eligibility is based on receipt of qualifying benefits, with 106,000 children receiving the payment as of September 2021 based on the latest data available.
Children who are home-schooled are not excluded from this support which will be increased to £20 per week as of April 2022. The Scottish Government remain committed to delivering the Scottish Child Payment in full by the end of 2022, subject to receipt of the necessary data from the Department for Work and Pensions, at which point around 430,000 children under the age of 16 will be eligible.
Until such times as the necessary data is made available by the Department for Work and Pensions it is not possible to expand the reach of the Scottish Child Payment to older children, including those who are home-schooled.
Ahead of the full roll out of Scottish Child Payment, the Scottish Government is working in partnership with local councils to deliver Bridging Payments. This innovative solution, which makes use of data available to local authorities, is enabling immediate support worth £520 in both 2021 and 2022 to be provided to as many children as possible. The Bridging Payments are made automatically for children of school age who receive Free School Meals on the basis of low income, reaching in the region of 150,000 children backed by investment of around £78 million a year.
In addition the Scottish Government has made £25 million of funding available to local authorities, as part of the £41 million Winter Support Fund, in order to tackle financial insecurity in their local areas. Scottish Government guidance , published in December 2021, encourages local authorities to utilise this funding to provide proactive financial assistance to those who may face hardship, including those not eligible for other support.