There are new regulations to set out the rules for the Scottish social security system. The rules about payments from local authorities in Scotland are also set by regulations.
This page collects the acts and regulations that set the rules, and some important official guidance.
Note that updated versions of Scottish regulations are not currently available online. To know what the up-to-date version of some of the regulations below is, you will need to check the amending regulations listed with them, to see if the rules have changed.
Legislation about benefits delivered by Social Security Scotland
This Act of the Scottish Parliament sets out the framework for most of the new benefits to be delivered by Social Security Scotland. In the law, these are called types of ‘assistance’. The Act includes all of the rules for the carer’s allowance supplement but the detailed rules about other Scottish benefits will be in regulations.
So far, the only regulations that have been finalised are for the best start grant and funeral expense assistance. Other draft regulations, which have been produced for consultations, are also included below. The rules may change before these benefits are introduced.
As well as basic eligibility information for each benefit which restricts what the regulations can say, the Social Security (Scotland) Act includes:
- eight principles under which the Scottish social security system will be delivered
- rules about claiming benefits
- how information should be communicated so that it's accessible
- what to do if you're unhappy with a decision
- how medical assessments should be carried out.
Best Start grant
The Best Start grant pregnancy and baby payment was introduced in December 2018. Some changes to the regulations about it were made from 21 March 2019, by the ‘No. 1’ amending regulations below.
The ‘No. 2’ amending regulations introduce two further grants - an early learning payment from 29 April 2019, and a school-age payment from 3 June 2019.
Funeral support payment
The Scottish parliament has approved The Funeral Expense Assistance (Scotland) Regulations 2019 , which will introduce a new benefit called funeral support payment. The link below is to the draft version that was approved. The regulations are not yet part of the law but it is expected that they will be by summer 2019.
Young carer grant
The Scottish Government has made draft young carer grant regulations. These msut be approved by the Scottish parliament before they become law, but cannot be amended by the parliament.
Other types of assistance
There will be other regulations for the different types of assistance under the Social Security (Scotland) Act. So far none of these have been published.
Best Start foods
The Best Start food scheme is delivered by Social Security Scotland. The regulations for the scheme are made under powers in section 13 of the Social Security Act 1988.
The rules are in regulations and some minor changes have been made by the amending regulations.
Scottish welfare fund legislation and guidance
The Welfare Funds (Scotland) Act 2015 established the Scottish welfare fund (SWF) in law in 2016. The SWF had been previously delivered by local authorities using an existing power.
There is only one set of Scottish welfare fund regulations. These have not been amended since they were made, so are still up to date.
The Welfare Funds (Scotland) Act requires that local authorities ‘have regard’ to official guidance from the Scottish Government when considering SWF applications. The main guidance document is normally updated around once a year. The current version was produced in May 2019.
There is also a separate guidance document about crisis grants for refugee families.
Council tax reduction legislation
The Local Government Finance Act 1992 established council tax. Section 80 of the Act allows for schemes to reduce the amount of council tax that someone has to pay in Scotland. When the Scottish Parliament was set up in 1998, powers over council tax in Scotland were transferred to it.
The council tax reduction scheme has different regulations for people under and over pension age. The main council tax reduction regulations are The Council Tax Reduction (Scotland) Regulations 2012 and The Council Tax Reduction (State Pension Credit) (Scotland) Regulations 2012.
Both of these main sets of regulations have been significantly amended since they were made. The Scottish government has produced an updated 'Keeling' version, showing all changes made up to April 2019.
Since this version was published, a further set of regulations have been made, which will make small changes from 1 June 2019.
Discretionary housing payment legislation
Whilst discretionary housing payments have been devolved, at present the existing law and guidance produced by the UK government applies in Scotland. This will eventually change, as there will be new rules set by part 5 the Social Security (Scotland) Act 2018 (see above).
The basic rules for the discretionary housing payment scheme are set by s.69 of the Child Support, Pensions and Social Security Act 2000.
More detail is set out in The Discretionary Financial Assistance Regulations 2001.
The DWP has also published good practice guidance for local authorities administering discretionary housing payments.
The main difference in the rules in Scotland is that the Scottish Government will fully reimburse local authorities for any discretionary housing payments made to mitigate the effect of the ‘bedroom tax’, or under occupancy charge for council and housing association tenants.