Winter Heating Assistance for Children and Young People (Scotland) Regulations 2020: scrutiny report
The Scottish Commission on Social Security's scrutiny report on the draft Winter Heating Assistance for Children and Young People (Scotland) Regulations 2020 with recommendations for the Scottish Government.
Provision for Appointees
Draft regulation 13 allows Social Security Scotland to make a young person’s £200 payment to someone else, for example their parent, if that is what the young person prefers, without having someone formally appointed to act on their behalf in every aspect of their application and award.
Officials have assured the Commission that guidance will underpin the process of paying assistance to another person to safeguard young people from potential financial abuse. In developing this process, there is also a need to take the views of young people into account and, in line with the Charter, ensure these powers do not just protect young people from harm but actively support them to play a full and active part in society, for example, by being able to choose how their social security assistance is managed.
Provision for formal appointments is in the Social Security (Scotland) Act 2018, and changes to these are planned in the Social Security Tribunal Membership and Administration Bill. The Commission would welcome clarification that draft regulation 13 is not required to provide for payments to appointees and that, more generally, regulations are not required for appointees to act for children and young people in other aspects of the application and award.
On a technical note, draft regulation 13(2) provides for switching the person to whom continued payment is made. While this would be relevant to DACYP, where regular payments are made, it seems unnecessary for CWHA where there is one payment per year. Rather, we would suggest that payment should not default to another person who received the payment the year before but that the situation is considered afresh.
Recommendation 11: The Scottish Government should develop processes for paying assistance to others that both protect and empower young people; and provide clarification that regulations are not required for appointees to act for children and young people in relation to applications, awards and payments.
Reliance on DWP data
The delivery of CWHA to schedule depends on the receipt of data from DWP to identify eligible households at a time when, as the Cabinet Secretary has acknowledged, DWP faces considerable operational pressures. We are pleased that the Scottish Government nonetheless reports that preparatory work is “progressing well” and that it is confident of delivering on time.
Observation 3: SCoSS would welcome further clarity about the implications of the necessary DWP data not being made available when expected.