Janet Richardson, Deputy Director for Client Services Delivery at Social Security Scotland writes about how youth workers can help young people access social security benefits available to them.
For those who might not know, Social Security Scotland is an executive agency of the Scottish Government and it’s our job to deliver benefit payments to eligible people across the country.
Young people are of course a crucial audience for us and we want to make sure they get all the financial support that they’re entitled to. To do that, we need to reach young people directly but also through those that we know they trust and listen to.
And we recognise the vital role that youth workers can play in helping us do that.
No one has to tell me about how youth work can change and positively impact young people’s lives.
Being a church youth leader was a real privilege and gave me the opportunity to support and work with young people from all backgrounds. This work opened up education opportunities and experiences that without such groups those young people would not have had the chance to experience. It also taught me some very valuable lessons and provided me with an understanding and appreciation of the barriers that many young people face and overcome every day.
With your help, young people can overcome barriers they might be facing when trying to get information about benefits, checking what they’re eligible for and submitting an application. Financial support includes disability benefits, money for young carers, young families and young people starting a new job.
Child Disability Payment and Adult Disability Payment provide support for the extra costs that a disabled child or adult might have. The disability can be mental or physical and people can apply even if they don’t have a diagnosis. As youth workers, you can help by the young people you support to identify letters or documents they might have to hand, to submit as supporting information along with their application.
We need one piece of supporting information from a professional to process an application for disability benefits. Supporting information should broadly confirm the disabilities or conditions outlined in the person’s application, which might be something you can confirm in a letter. Other examples of supporting information include a child or young person’s additional support needs plan, letters from school or college explaining what support the child or young person needs in education, an assessment from Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services or a prescription list.
You can also help the young people you support by providing supporting information to us if we get in touch to request it.
Young people aged 16 to 18 who look after someone for an average of 16 hours a week could also be eligible for Young Carer Grant. This is an annual payment, currently £359.65, that can be spent how the young person chooses. Young people have told us they have put the money towards driving lessons, buying a car or savings. Many young people may not see themselves as carers but they might already be doing things like cooking or doing the shopping for a cared for person, collecting prescriptions and helping them with their medication or supporting them with their mental health.
Job Start Payment is also available to help young people and care leavers with the costs of starting a new job. Eligible people receive a one-off payment of £294.70, or £471.50 if they are a main carer of any children. We’ve recently introduced changes to this payment, simplifying the application process. One key change is extending the deadline to apply to six months after a young person receives a job offer, rather than the previous deadline of three months.
Young parents can also qualify for a group of benefits known as the five family payments. Two of these can be applied for while pregnant – Best Start Grant Pregnancy and Baby Payment and Best Start Foods. Both of these are made without the need for a qualifying benefit to parents aged under 18, regardless of their income. The remaining five family payments are Scottish Child Payment and the two other Best Start Grants – Early Learning Payment and School Age Payment.
To find out more about these benefits and apply online, over the phone or book an appointment to apply in-person, people can visit mygov.scot/benefits or call us free on 0800 182 2222. We also have stakeholder resources available for each of our benefits.
We recognise the power of youth work to transform the lives of young people, and hope you can help us put the money they deserve in their pockets to support that transformation.