Scottish Child Payment Regulations 2020: scrutiny report

The Scottish Commission on Social Security's scrutiny report on the draft Scottish Child Payment Regulations 2020 with recommendations for the Scottish Government.

Summary of recommendations

Recommendation 1: The Scottish Government should explore whether there is any deliverable way of ensuring continuity of SCP support to those families who meet the criteria, avoiding loss of entitlement when a child turns six between the launch of the SCP and its extension to older children.

Recommendation 2: If and when it can be operationally delivered, the Scottish Government should give claimants a choice of more frequent payments of SCP. The Scottish Government should consider the desirability and feasibility of aligning SCP payments with universal credit in the future, including a choice between monthly or twice-monthly payments.

Recommendation 3: In view of the specific poverty reduction objective for the SCP, the Scottish Government should consider a ‘double lock’ approach to uprating the SCP, so that payments increase annually by the higher of CPI inflation or growth in median income.

Recommendation 4: The Scottish Government should continually review its approach to promoting take-up of the SCP with input from stakeholders, claimants and potential claimants. The Scottish Government should work proactively with the DWP with a view to making automatic awards of SCP in the future.

Recommendation 5: The Scottish Government should consider the desirability and feasibility of a tapered withdrawal of the SCP, as non-social security income approaches the upper limit for eligibility for the qualifying benefit. This would avoid the risk of a small increase in earnings resulting in a larger loss of benefit income.

Recommendation 6: The Scottish Government/Social Security Scotland should publish the clearest possible guidance on when recovery of overpayments will or will not be pursued. The Scottish Government should also make provision for an independent review of any decision to recover an overpayment.

Recommendation 7: The Scottish Government should consider amending the Schedule to the draft Regulations, or part 2 of the Act, to clarify whether a redetermination or appeal should take account of changes of circumstances subsequent to the initial application.

Recommendation 8: The Scottish Government should extend the 14-day period during which a decision maker can take account of post-application changes of circumstances so as to allow simultaneous applications for universal credit and the SCP.

Recommendation 9: In light of the different terms used in the Act and draft Regulations, the Scottish Government should publish guidance explaining that an award of the qualifying reserved benefit is required to confer eligibility to the SCP, or any other top-up under section 79.

Recommendation 10: The Scottish Government should clarify the circumstances in which a nil award of a qualifying benefit can confer entitlement to the SCP, ideally in the Regulations but, failing that, in Decision Maker Guidance.

Recommendation 11: The Scottish Government should ensure the Regulations and guidance are clear on how competing applications will be resolved, including any right of appeal that the unsuccessful applicant might have, taking into account the fact that one applicant might not be aware of the other application.

Recommendation 12: The Scottish Government’s proposed review of the SCP should explore issues raised in the Commission’s report and actively involve prospective recipients including parents of older children and other relevant stakeholders. If feasible, the review should be undertaken before the extension of SCP to older children.

Recommendation 13: When developing new Regulations, the Scottish Government should routinely review whether there is scope to increase consistency and coherence across Regulations, unless there is good reason for differences between them.

Recommendation 14: Subject to clarification on detriment to the UK Government for the purposes of the fiscal framework, the Scottish Government should seek to maximise take-up of reserved benefits that confer eligibility to the SCP, through initiatives led by the Scottish Government or, if possible, in partnership with the DWP.

Recommendation 15: Issues and learning around the future use of the section 79 top-up power more generally should form part of any future review of the SCP.

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