The Welfare Foods (Best Start Foods) (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2024: scrutiny report

The Scottish Commission on Social Security's scrutiny report on the draft Welfare Foods (Best Start Foods) (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2024

5. Rate of payment

BSF Regulation 13 currently sets the value of a BSF award at £4.95 per week during pregnancy and for one- and two-year old children, and £9.90 for children under one year old. Draft Regulation 14 amends this so that the payment of £4.95 is now defined as the ‘basic rate’. Children under one year old will receive double the basic rate under the amended Regulation. This makes no difference to the BSF payment to which anyone is entitled for the time being, but may serve to lock in the double payment during the first year of life more effectively than the current regulations. If children under one receive double the basic rate, it will only be necessary to consider the level of the basic rate during the annual uprating process. This will prevent the under-one rate being whittled away by differential uprating at different ages, although it also prevents the under-one rate being increased to more than double the basic rate through uprating. Either type of change would remain possible by further amending the BSF regulations.

Representatives from stakeholder organisations who attended the SCoSS roundtable noted that food inflation has, in recent years, far exceeded the CPI inflationary measure used as the basis for the up rating of Scottish social security payments, particularly for healthier foods, and further noted that this has reduced the potential impact of BSF. This is primarily a matter for the uprating process rather than the present draft Regulations – as previous SCoSS reports have noted, the Scottish Government continues to monitor work on the development of alternative measures of inflation to CPI, but is unlikely to adopt any measure that does not have ‘national statistic’ status.1

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