Scottish Government launches second stage of Best Start payments
Families on low incomes in Scotland will now be entitled to £250 when their child reaches nursery age, after the second payment in the Scottish Government’s Best Start Grant benefit was rolled out.
The Best Start Grant early learning payment, which was available from Monday, is part of a three-part benefits package to help with the costs of a child at key stages.
The scheme replaces the one-off payment of the UK’s Sure Start maternity grant as part of the devolution of some social security powers to Scotland.
The first payment gives parents £600 on the birth of their first child and £300 for subsequent children. In its first three months, 9,770 low income families have claimed the benefit.
Scottish Government figures show the UK Government paid out £2m in Sure Start maternity grant payments in Scotland during the 2017/18 financial year, while the Scottish Government paid out £3.5m in the three months of the new benefit.
The third payment, timed to coincide with a child starting school, is due to be launched in June.
Social Security Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said: “The new £250 payment will help low income families around the time a child normally starts nursery, demonstrating this government’s ambition to put more money into the pockets of families who need it most.”
Claire Telfer, head of Scotland at Save the Children, welcomed the launch of the second payment.
“Poverty has a firm hold on Scotland, but our children shouldn’t go without,” she said.
“The Scottish Government needs to continue to build upon its commitment; boosting investment and support in the early years to reduce the number of children experiencing the devastating effects of poverty and give them the future they deserve.”
Scottish Greens parliamentary co-leader Alison Johnstone said Social Security Scotland should “reach out” to make sure people get what they are entitled to.
“We know that many people don’t claim social security support because either they do not know they are entitled, or don’t know there is support available at all. Over £1bn goes unclaimed every year,” she said.
“As an entirely new form of assistance, it is all the more important that the Scottish Government does all it can to raise awareness of this new grant amongst eligible families.”