New payment to help low-income families with costs of raising children

A new payment to help cover the costs of having children has been introduced in Scotland.

Families on low incomes can now apply for the Best Start Grant, with applications opening on Monday.

It replaces the Sure Start Maternity Grant, which made a one-off payment of £500.

The grant will mean that eligible families will receive a payment of £600 for their first child, with £300 paid for the second and all subsequent children.

Individuals who receive the payment will be able to choose how to spend the money.

The application window has also been extended under the new system, up from 24 weeks pregnant to six months after the birth, giving clients longer to apply.

Alison Johnstone MSP, the Scottish Greens’ social security spokeswoman, welcomed the introduction of the new payment.

“Greens have played a key role in helping to set up the new social security system, ensuring that the reduction of poverty is one of the guiding principles,” said Ms Johnstone.

“That’s why it is great that this first new payment is launching as it will help families on lower incomes with the cost of raising a new child.

“I am also pleased that the heinous child cap is being removed and the payment can be made in respect of more than one child.

“We do need to look carefully at ensuring that everyone who is entitled can claim Best Start.

“Greens are encouraging everyone who believes they may be eligible to get in touch with Social Security Scotland and find out what they are entitled to.”

Social Security and Older People Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said: “If you are about to or have recently had a baby – I would encourage you to check if you are eligible and apply.

“The Best Start grant is different from the previous UK Government scheme.

“There is no cap on the number of children it can support, meaning babies born in the last six months who already have a big brother or sister will now be eligible for a payment, and the eligibility and window application have also been increased.

“This extra money could make a real difference for you and your baby at what is a wonderful time but one that I know can also be expensive.”

David Wallace, chief executive of Social Security Scotland, said: “This is the first benefit that will be wholly delivered by Social Security Scotland and we are taking applications for the first time.

“We have been working hard to prepare and everyone is passionate about delivering the best service possible to the people of Scotland.

“Today marks a major milestone towards for this significant new public service.”