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Social Security (Up-rating) (Miscellaneous Amendments) (Scotland) Regulations 2021: scrutiny report

The Scottish Commission on Social Security's scrutiny report on the draft Social Security (Up-rating) (Miscellaneous Amendments) (Scotland) Regulations 2021 with recommendations for the Scottish Government.

Uprating Scottish Child Payment

Scottish Child Payments are being made from February 2021. However, paragraph 1.6 of the section 77 report notes that the duty to report on and uprate Scottish Child Payment (SCP) under the Social Security (Scotland) Act, as amended, will not come into force until after the end of the current financial year 2020-21. This means that the section 77 report does not cover SCP for the period 2021-22. However, the Scottish Government has previously stated its commitment to uprating this benefit in future years (the attached letter also provides some relevant legal context).

We queried whether, despite the legal position outlined above, the Scottish Government could still have decided to up-rate SCP for 2021- 22. The absence of a duty to uprate does not necessarily preclude having discretion to do so. There is strong evidence that Covid has disproportionately adversely impacted low income households with children, even though such evidence was not presented in the section 77 report.

We accept there may be practical difficulties to uprating SCP so soon after payments start to be made, or budgetary constraints that preclude uprating it this time. However, it would be helpful to understand the reasons and we are aware this issue is of interest to stakeholders.

Recommendation 8: Acknowledging there may be good reasons that preclude uprating SCP for 2021-22, the Scottish Government is asked to clarify the basis for deciding not to uprate it and any implications for its strategic approach in comparable situations.