Emergency UK legislation 

Coronavirus Act 2020 (in force since 25.3.20) 

Read more: Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe) briefingScottish Human Rights Commission briefing

Scottish health regulations based on the UK act: The Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions) (Scotland) Regulations 2020; The Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions) (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2020; The Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions) (Scotland) Amendment (No. 2) Regulations 2020

Statutory Guidance issued by Scottish Ministers

Coronavirus (COVID 19): changes to social care assessments - Statutory guidance for local authorities on sections 16 and 17 of the Coronavirus Act 2020, 8th April 2020

Note: Section 16 amends local authorities' assessment duties under sections 23(3) (assessment of the needs of children affected by disability) and 29(5) of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995 (assessment of aftercare needs of care experienced young people). They are now not obliged to carry out these assessments if it is not practical or it would cause unnecessary delay in the provision of support. However, the Act does not affect the duties on local authorities to safeguard and promote the welfare of children in need under section 22 and to provide aftercare services under section 29 of the 1995 Act. Similarly, local authorities are not obliged to prepare a young carer statement under section 12 of the Carers (Scotland) Act 2016 if it is not practical or will cause unnecessary delay in the provision of support.


Emergency Scottish Parliament legislation

Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020 (in force from 7.4.20 until 30.9.20 initially, but can be extended - but not beyond 30.9.21)

Section 4 relates to Children and Vulnerable adults and introduces Schedule 3 which contains temporary changes to the law - changes affect: children’s hearings composition, attendance and timescales for reviews and appeals; timescales for child assessment and child protection orders, CSOs, ICSOs and secure accommodation; placement of looked after children (extension of timescales for emergency placements, review etc, flexibility for foster carers to look after additional children).  

Our blog explains changes to Children's Hearings based on Schedule 3. See also Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020 – Guidance on looked-after children and children’s hearings provisions, 7th April 2020

Read more: Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICE) BriefingCoronavirus (Scotland) Bill: child rights and wellbeing impact assessment; Children and Young People Commissioner Scotland Parliamentary Briefing; Law Society of Scotland Briefing


Secondary legislation brought in to respond to coronavirus

The Homeless Persons (Unsuitable Accommodation) (Scotland) Amendment Order 2020 - (in force from 6.5.20) - amends the Homeless Persons (Unsuitable Accommodation) Order 2014 by extending its scope to include all homeless persons rather than particular types of household.

The Prisons and Young Offenders Institutions (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2020 (in force from 7.4.20)

The Education (Miscellaneous Amendments) (Coronavirus) (Scotland) Regulations 2020 (in force from 23.4.20). Child rights and Wellbeing Impact Assessment here. Blog by Iain Nisbet here

The Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 (Modification) (No. 2) Revocation Order 2020 (in force from 30.4.20) - revokes the legal duty for councils to almost double (from 600 to 1140 hours) provision of free early learning and childcare by 1st August 2020 


Scottish Government Guidance

Child protection: Coronavirus (COVID-19): supplementary national child protection guidance for Chief Officers, professional leaders in children’s services and child protection committees, published 31st March, updated 29th April 2020

Residential child care: Guidance for residential children’s houses, residential schools and secure care facilities on staffing, social distancing and self-isolation, 23rd April 2020

Children's Hearings: Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020 – Guidance on looked-after children and children’s hearings provisions, 7th April 2020

Schools: Guidance to help support continuity in children and young people’s learning in Term 4, following the closure of schools in March due to Covid-19, 20th April 2020


See also:

Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration and Children’s Hearings Scotland joint update on virtual Hearings, 20th April 2020

Care Inspectorate: Contingency foster care arrangements during Covid-19, 10th April 202

Update on devolved benefits: The delivery of existing benefits continues, but the introduction of Scottish Child Payment, Child Disability Payment and the replacement for Personal Independence Payments has been delayed

Changes to benefit eligibility to help people who are impacted by coronavirus and can't get an application in on time to still get the support that they need, including the Pregnancy and Baby Payment and Young Carer Grant.

Extra hardship payments for students - emergency financial support for students facing hardship as a result of the coronavirus outbreak (see Clan Childlaw coronavirus Q & As on aftercare support during coronavirus, the Care Experienced Bursary and student finance).


This is intended as a guide to the law in Scotland as at April 2020 and not as an authoritative statement and interpretation of the law. If you have any questions or would like further information please call 0808 129 0522 or email info@clanchildlaw.org.