The Scottish Government has announced that the first devolved benefits to be delivered by the new Scottish Social Security Agency will be a supplementary payment to increase Carers Allowance, together with benefits to replace the existing Sure Start Maternity Grant and Funeral Payments. The new benefits are planned to begin in 2018 and 2019.
In a statement to the Scottish Parliament, the Cabinet Secretary for Communities announced the first benefits to be delivered by the new Agency will be as follows:
Increased Carer’s Allowance
(supplement to existing Carer’s Allowance)
- This will be delivered from summer 2018, backdated to April 2018
It is a separate ‘top-up benefit’ that will be paid to people who receive Carer’s Allowance from the DWP to increase the value of their award to the same level as Jobseeker’s Allowance (increasing from £62.70 to £73.10 per week)
Payments will be made twice a year.
This is an interim arrangement prior to the Scottish Government taking control of Carer’s Allowance itself at a later date. It is expected that arrangements will be put in place to ensure that the supplementary payment does not adversely affect recipients’ entitlements to other DWP benefits.
Best Start Grant
(replacing the current Sure Start Maternity Grant)
- This will be delivered from summer 2019.
It will consist of:
A £600 payment to families on low incomes when their first child is born (an increase from current £500)
A £300 payment to families on low incomes when second and subsequent children are born. There will be no limit placed on the number of children that are supported through payments
A £250 payment to families on low incomes when a child starts nursery
A £250 payment to families on low incomes when a child starts school
The Scottish Government has been working with parents who will be eligible to make sure the application process is easier to follow, and to join up support with other services that parents use, including linking with Healthy Start Vouchers. They are aiming to increase take up from around 50% currently.
Funeral Expenses Assistance
(replacing the current Funeral Payment)
- This will be delivered from summer 2019
The Scottish Government has committed to process applications within 10 working days of receiving a completed application
They have also committed to making it easier for people to understand if they are eligible for assistance and to develop an application process that is easier to understand. They are aiming to increase take-up from around 60% currently.
Further details of benefits due to be delivered by the new Scottish Social Security Agency will be announced at a later date. These include:
Disability benefits (currently PIP, DLA, Attendance Allowance, Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit and Severe Disablement Allowance)
Carers benefits (currently Carers Allowance)
A possible Young Carer's Allowance
A possible Job Grant (a one-off payment to young people who have secured a job after being unemployed for more than six months)
Benefits to support heating costs (currently Winter Fuel Allowance and Cold Weather Payment)
Disability and carers benefits are not expected to be delivered before 2020 – 2021, as this will also involve the migration to the new system of people who are in receipt of an ongoing payment.
Further details of the regulations of the new benefits will follow in due course. The Scottish Government consulted on some of the details last year – you can find out more of what CAB clients and advisers and clients thought they should look like by clicking here.
The full text of the Cabinet Secretary’s statement can be found here.