- Document Cover
- Summary of recommendations and observations
- Executive summary
- 1. Introduction
- 2. Up-rating Scottish social security for 2024/25
- 3. Earning thresholds
- 4. Evaluation of potential methods of up-rating
- 5. Approach to scrutiny
- Annex A: About the Scottish Commission on Social Security
- Annex B: Overview – powers and constraints
- Annex C: Scrutiny timeline
2. Up-rating Scottish social security for 2024/25
There is a statutory duty to up-rate the forms of assistance which are covered by section 86B of the Act, but the up-rating of other devolved social security payments is discretionary (see table below).
|Child Disability Payment
|Best Start Grants
|Adult Disability Payment
|Best Start Foods
|Carer Support Payment
|Child Winter Heating Payment
|Young Carer Grant
|Winter Heating Payment
|Funeral Support Payment
|Job Start Payment
|Scottish Child Payment
The draft Regulations appear straightforward: this year the Scottish Government has again decided to up-rate all Scottish social security payments, including those for which up-rating is discretionary, by the September 2023 CPI 12-month rate, 6.7%. The Scottish Government is responsible for up-rating benefits delivered for them by the DWP, e.g. Personal Independence Payment, and by agreement maintains parity with DWP rates of benefit.1For example para 5,7 of the Personal independence Payment in Scotland: Agency Agreement From April 2024, these benefits are also up-rated by 6.7%, through a separate Order which is not subject to scrutiny by SCoSS.2Draft-86A-Report-Up-rating-2024-25-SCoSS.pdf (socialsecuritycommission.scot), paragraph 5.4
As noted above, a distinction can be made between maintaining the value of social security payments through up-rating, and increasing the value of social security payments to meet other policy objectives.3See e.g. points made in Scrutiny report – The Social Security (Up-rating) (Miscellaneous Amendments) (Scotland) Regulations 2023 (socialsecuritycommission.scot) Maintaining the value of social security payments through up-rating can be regarded as ‘administrative’ whereas an increase over and above that is more likely to involve specific policy objectives.
The Explanatory Note to the draft Regulations refers to each regulation as an ‘increase in the value’ of certain forms of assistance. As the purpose of up-rating is to maintain the value of social security payments in the face of rising prices, a distinction can be made between up-rating and situations outwith the annual up-rating process which may increase the value of a social security payment for other policy purposes. It would aid clarity if the Explanatory Note referred to ‘increases the amount of’ social security payments rather than referring to their value.
Recommendation 1: In the Explanatory Note to the draft Regulations the Scottish Government should refer to ‘increases in the amount of’ social security payments rather than referring to an increase in their value.
The Scottish Government’s 2019 policy paper makes a (broad) distinction between regular payments where there is a duty to up-rate and the one-off grants where there is no such duty.7Scottish Government Policy Paper – Annual Uprating of Devolved Social Security Assistance (www.gov.scot) This year Ministers decided to up-rate discretionary social security payments by 6.7% in line with the annual rate of September 2023 CPI.
SCoSS understands that the rationale for this up-rating particularly relates to the objective of tackling child poverty, which also invokes social security principle (e) and contributes to equality in Scotland. Officials informed SCoSS that:
“During the current cost of living crisis, it is vital that the real-terms value of these payments are maintained for clients. After taking into consideration the effects of inflation, this will be achieved by increasing these payments by 6.7%. These social security payments support those on the lowest incomes in Scotland, strengthen our collective action on child poverty, in particular for some of the six priority families such as families with a child under one, and provide support for people with protected characteristics, such as disability.”
The up-rating of all social security payments for which up-rating is discretionary is forecasted to cost the Scottish Government £4.6m next year.8Figures supplied by Scottish Government officials. At a time when there are significant pressures on Scottish Government budgets, this commitment to maintaining the value of all Scottish social security payments is welcome.