Mark Willis describes a new benefit in Scotland.
The Scottish child payment is a new benefit for lower income families with younger children in Scotland. The Scottish government is using its devolved power to top up reserved benefits to make the new payment, which will be administered and paid by Social Security Scotland.1s79 Social Security (Scotland) Act 2018
The payment will be £10 a week per child under the age of six for families entitled to any amount of universal credit (UC), tax credits, income support, income-based jobseeker’s allowance, income-related employment and support allowance or pension credit (PC).2The Scottish Child Payment Regulations 2020, No.351
The claimant must be recognised as responsible for the child for the purpose of UC, child tax credit (CTC), PC or child benefit, or be an approved kinship carer for the child. Entitlement is not affected if a child element in UC or CTC is not payable due to the two-child limit, and there is no limit on the number of children in one family who can qualify for a Scottish child payment. A claimant whose qualifying benefit has been reduced to nil because of a sanction is still entitled to the Scottish child payment. The Scottish child payment is not payable if the qualifying benefit was paid in error.
To qualify for the Scottish child payment, the claimant must be ordinarily resident in Scotland, which is expected to be accepted if the qualifying benefit is in payment at a Scottish address. Entitlement to the Scottish child payment ends if the claimant is no longer ordinarily resident in Scotland, or no longer responsible for the child, or no longer entitled to the qualifying benefit. In this first stage of introduction, the Scottish child payment ends when the child reaches the age of six. The Scottish government has announced that it plans to extend the Scottish child payment to children under the age of 16 by the end of 2022.3
Claims, payments and decisions
It will be necessary to make an application for a Scottish child payment – it is not being paid automatically. Claims (to Social Security Scotland) can be made online, by phone or by post using a form: see .
Determinations about the Scottish child payment are subject to the Scottish social security rules governing overpayments, redetermination and appeals. Payments will be made every four weeks, in arrears. The Scottish Fiscal Commission estimates that 194,000 children will be eligible for the payment.4
To cope with an expected influx of applications when it is introduced, it has been possible to claim from 9 November 2020. Payments will start from 15 February 2021.
There is no backdating possible for the Scottish child payment. The date of the claim is the date the completed application is received by Social Security Scotland. If the claimant is not entitled to a qualifying benefit on the date the claim is made, but the qualifying benefit is awarded within 14 days, then the claim can be treated as made on a later date within 14 days. A claimant who is waiting to hear about UC (or other qualifying benefit) should make a claim for the Scottish child payment. If the qualifying benefit has not been awarded by the time Social Security Scotland makes it decision, the claim will be refused. However, the claimant should notify Social Security Scotland if the qualifying benefit is later awarded and backdated to include the date of the claim for the Scottish child payment. In this case, the Scottish child payment can be awarded from the date the original claim was made, without the need for another application. 5Sch para 8 Scottish Child Payment Regulations 2020, No.351
Competing claims for a Scottish child payment will be decided by first looking at who is responsible for the child for the purposes of UC, CTC or PC, and that person will be entitled. If no one is responsible for the child for UC, CTC or PC, then the person who gets child benefit will usually be entitled to the Scottish child payment (but note, s/he must also be getting a qualifying benefit in her/his own right). However, if the other person who has applied is an approved kinship carer with whom the child is living, then the kinship carer will be entitled to the Scottish child payment (but note, s/he must also be getting a qualifying benefit in her/his own right).6Sch para 5 Scottish Child Payment Regulations 2020, No.351
Someone who is already entitled to a Scottish child payment and who becomes responsible for another child under the age of six should notify Social Security Scotland. Payment for another child can be made without requiring a new application, and payment cycles are expected to be aligned with the first child.7Sch para 11 Scottish Child Payment Regulations 2020, No.351