The Scottish Government has today laid secondary legislation in the Scottish Parliament for the Scottish Child Payment. This is a new form of social security assistance to help tackle child poverty and provide additional support for low income families, with payments starting from end of February 2021. Scottish Child Payment is equivalent to £10 per week for each child aged under six living in households that receive qualifying benefits such as Universal Credit. The payment will be rolled out to all eligible children aged under 16 in 2022-23.
The Scottish Fiscal Commission estimates the Scottish Child Payment will cost £11 million in 2020-21, a £10 million reduction compared to the forecast earlier this year to accompany the Scottish Budget. The main reason for this reduction is that the start date has been delayed because of COVID-19.
In the light of COVID-19 the Commission has changed its views of how many children may be eligible for support. The Scottish Fiscal Commission expects 155,000 children to receive the Scottish Child Payment in the launch year, 2020-21. Once it is fully rolled out to all children under 16, we expect between 325,000 and 360,000 children to receive the Scottish Child Payment. Our assessment that COVID-19 is likely to increase eligibility for the Scottish Child Payment is dependent on our outlook for the Scottish economy, presented in our Fiscal Update publication last week. We have also increased our estimate of the proportion of eligible families who take up the new assistance. We expect there to be greater awareness of the financial support available as unemployment increases and many people’s earnings will be lower.
1. On 2 September we published a second Fiscal Update on the latest position of the Scottish Budget for 2020-21. The report also assesses the economic outlook for Scotland.
2. The Commission’s next set of forecasts are due to be published alongside the Scottish Budget, expected in December as outlined in the Cabinet Secretary for Finance’s letter to Dame Susan Rice on 25 August.
3. The headline figures used in the Scottish Government’s media release refer to the number of children eligible for Scottish Child Payment as opposed to the number of children expected to receive payment. The figure of 155,000 children expected to receive the Scottish Child Payment in 2020-21 derives from an estimate of 194,000 eligible children.