The Social Security (Up-rating) (Miscellaneous Amendment) (Scotland) 2024 Regulations: scrutiny report

The Scottish Commission on Social Security's scrutiny report on the Social Security (Up-rating) (Miscellaneous Amendment) (Scotland) 2024 Regulations

3. Earning thresholds

In general terms, an earnings threshold for a social security payment is an amount of income above which a person’s eligibility for that social security payment is affected. A person receiving an income above the threshold for a given social security payment might receive a reduced rate for that payment, or might be ineligible for that payment altogether, depending on the rules for that specific payment.

The only Scottish social security payment currently with an earnings threshold is Carer Support Payment (CSP).

Officials confirmed that the earnings threshold for CSP will be raised by 8.5%. Although the figures for this increase are included in the draft Regulations, the rate is not made explicit in the draft Section 86A report.

Although the Scottish Government is required to up-rate the amounts of social security payments in line with increased prices, there is no requirement to up-rate earnings thresholds. There is also no standard way of increasing earnings thresholds year on year.

Officials stated there are no concrete plans to look at how earnings thresholds will be up-rated in the future, e.g. following completion of case transfer from Carer’s Allowance to Carer Support Payment when up-rating no longer has to follow the UK Government’s approach.

Without an annual up-rating exercise there is a risk that the value of earnings thresholds would fall, just as the value of social security payments would fall if their amounts were not increased in line with costs of living.

As with up-rating the amounts of social security payments, which involves choices about different inflation measures, there are likely to be a range of options for an appropriate measure for the up-rating of earnings thresholds.1Some examples, amongst others, include: September 12-month CPI rate; UK National Minium Wage; UK National Living Wage; ONS Average Weekly Earnings (AWE). Stakeholder engagement on this matter would be in keeping with principle (f).2“The Scottish social security system is to be designed with the people of Scotland on the basis of evidence.”

Recommendation 2: To inform policy following the completion of case transfer, the Scottish Government should consider different measures for up-rating earnings thresholds and consider the merits of making annual up-rating of earnings thresholds a requirement.

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