Best Start Grant and Best Start Foods

Last updated: 12 August 2019

You can get Best Start Grant and Best Start Foods:

  • if your child is the right age for a payment
  • whether you're in work or not, as long as you're on certain payments or benefits
  • as long as you're the parent of a child, or the main person looking after the child

Best Start Grant is 3 one-off cash payments.

Best Start Foods is a prepaid card that you can use to buy healthy foods for children under 3.

If you can get more than one payment at the same time

You only need to fill in the Best Start Grant and Best Start Foods form once to apply for all the payments you can get now.

If you can get one payment now and another in the future, you'll need to fill in a new form each time you apply.

You can still get the Pregnancy and Baby Payment part of Best Start Grant for a baby that's stillborn or died after they were born. If you're paid when you're pregnant, and your baby is stillborn or dies later, you will not need to pay any money back. If you apply after a stillbirth or death, you can apply up to 6 months after the baby's birth date.

Best Start Grant and Best Start Foods payments

The 3 Best Start Grant cash payments are:

You can apply for the Pregnancy and Baby Payment from 24 weeks pregnant up to the day your baby is 6 months old. This goes up to 1 if you've taken over looking after a child, such as if you've adopted.

You can apply whether a child is your 1st or not, as long as you apply when your baby is the right age. If you can get the Pregnancy and Baby Payment for your 1st child, you'll be paid £600.

You'll be paid £300 for any child that comes after your 1st, such as your 2nd or 3rd child, or any child after these.

If you apply for twins and have no other children under 16

Your payment for 1st twin Your payment for 2nd twin Extra payment for twins Total
£600 £300 £300 £1200

If you apply for twins and have other children under 16

Your payment for 1st twin Your payment for 2nd twin Extra payment for twins Total
£300 £300 £300 £900

If you have triplets, you'll be paid an extra £300 on top of what you get for twins. £1500 if you do not have any other children under 16, £1200 if you do.

Your first child is your oldest child under 16. This includes a stepchild, if you have one. It also includes any child you've taken looking after, such as if you've adopted.

You can apply when your child is aged between 2 years old and 3 years 6 months old.

If you get the Early Learning Payment, you'll get £250 for each child you can get the payment for. You can spend this money on any of the things you need for your child at this age. This includes toys to help them learn or trips to new places.

When you need to apply for the School Age Payment depends on when your child was born:

Your child's date of birth When you need to apply
Between 1 March 2014 and 28 February 2015 Between 3 June 2019 and 29 February 2020
Between 1 March 2015 and 29 February 2016 Between 1 June 2020 and 28 February 2021

You cannot apply outwith these dates.

If your child was born later than February 2016, you'll be able to apply after May 2021. You cannot apply for the School Age Payment for a child born before 1st March 2014.

If you get the School Age Payment, you'll get £250 for each child you can get the payment for.

The School Age Payment has not replaced the School Clothing Grant. The School Age Payment is a new payment and does not affect in any way payments of the School Clothing Grant. If you want to apply for both, you can.

The Best Start Foods card


You can use your Best Start Foods card to buy food in shops or online.

You can apply for Best Start Foods when you're pregnant, or any time up to your child turning 3 years old. This goes up to 4 years old for a child:

  • who's over 2 years old when you apply
  • that you also get Healthy Start Vouchers for

If you're getting Healthy Start Vouchers for a child you apply for, you'll be moved from Healthy Start Vouchers to Best Start Foods.

The payments of Best Start Foods are:

  • £17 every 4 weeks during pregnancy
  • £34 every 4 weeks from your child being born up until they're a 1 year old
  • £17 every 4 weeks between the ages of 1 and 3

If your child was between 2 and 4 years old when you applied, and you were getting Healthy Start Vouchers for them, you'll be paid £17 every 4 weeks until they're 4 years old.

You can find out more about how you can use your Best Start Foods card in shops.

Social Security Scotland look after Best Start Foods payments, but a business called allpay will look after your Best Start Foods card. This includes things like lost Best Start Foods cards and new cards.

What affects whether you can apply

If you're under 18, you do not need to be on any payments or benefits to apply for Best Start Grant or Best Start Foods.

If you're a parent over 18, you can apply whether you're in work or not, as long as you're getting one of these:

  • Universal Credit
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Housing Benefit
  • Income Support
  • Pension Credit
  • Income-based Jobseekers Allowance (JSA)
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)

You cannot get Best Start Grant or Best Start Foods if you only get Child Benefit. You must still be getting one of the benefits or payments from this list to be able to get Best Start Grant or Best Start Foods.

For Best Start Grant, we do not need to know about your income. For Best Start Foods, some of the benefits have an income limit.

If you're not getting any of these benefits or payments, but have applied for one, you can still apply for Best Start Grant and Best Start Foods. If you've already been paid the Sure Start Maternity Grant for a baby, you cannot be paid the Pregnancy and Baby Payment for the same baby.

You can only apply if you live in Scotland. If you live somewhere else in the UK, you can apply for the Sure Start Maternity Grant.

The benefits you need to be on to get Best Start Food are the same as Best Start Grant, but some of the benefits have an income limit.

The benefits that have an income limit are:

  • Universal Credit – if you or your partner have a job, your joint income from working must be less than £610 a month, after tax and National Insurance – Universal Credit payments are not counted as part of this
  • Child Tax Credit, if you're not getting Working Tax Credit – you and your partner's joint income from working must be less than £16,190 per year
  • Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit - your income from working must be less than £7,320 per year
  • Housing Benefit – you and your partner's joint income from working must be less than £311 a week

If you're 18 or 19 and do not get any benefits or payments, you can still apply for Best Start Grant or Best Start Foods if your parent or carer gets one of these for you:

  • Child Tax Credit
  • Child Benefit
  • Universal Credit child payments
  • the child addition part of Pension Credit

To apply, you'll need to call our free helpline on 0800 182 2222 or download and fill in our paper form. You cannot apply online.

If you're under 18, you do not need to be on any payments or benefits to get Best Start Grant.

For Best Start Foods, you do not need to be on any payments or benefits if you're 18 and your child is under one. For a child older than one, the rules are the same as they are for a parent who's over 18.

If you're applying for the Early Learning Payment or the School Age Payment, you must apply yourself.

You can apply for the Pregnancy and Baby Payment in one of two ways:

  • apply yourself
  • someone else can apply for you as long as they get Child Benefit, Child Tax Credit, Universal Credit child payments or the child addition part of Pension Credit for you

If you're between 14 – 18 years old, you have the same choice when applying for Best Start Foods.

If you're under 14 and applying for Best Start Foods

If you're under 14, pregnant and want to apply for Best Start Foods, you'll need to get your parent or carer to apply instead.

If your parent or carer applies for Best Start Foods, they'll need to either call our free helpline on 0800 182 2222 or download and fill in our paper form. They cannot apply online.

You can apply if you're the main person looking after a child. This includes if you're:

  • the child's birth mother
  • living with the birth mother and the two of you are a couple, married or civil partners
  • single fathers

You can also apply if you've taken over looking after a child, such as if you've adopted or are a kinship carer.

How to confirm you're the main person looking after a child

To show you're the main person looking after a child, you must be getting one of these for the child:

  • Child Tax Credit
  • Child Benefit
  • Universal Credit child payments
  • child addition part of Pension Credit

If you do not get any of these, you need to have a legal order that shows you look after the child. The type of legal order you need to have includes things like:

  • a Parental Order
  • a Kinship Care Order
  • an Adoption Order
  • a Compulsory Supervision order
  • a Residence Order
  • a Permanence Order

You and your data

If you want to know more about how Social Security Scotland use your data, you can read the privacy notice about Best Start Grant and Best Start Foods.

Apply online now

You'll need:

  • your name, date of birth and address
  • if you have a partner, their name and date of birth
  • your bank, credit union or building society account details - you can be paid the Pregnancy and Baby Payment in the same way you're paid for your other benefits if you do not have one of these accounts - if you want to request this call 0800 182 2222 (freephone, 8am to 6pm, Monday to Friday)
  • details of any children you have or care for

If you apply for the Pregnancy and Baby Payment or Best Start Foods when you're pregnant, Social Security Scotland can contact Baby Box to confirm the details of your pregnancy. We can also do this for a baby under 6 months old. If you agree to this, you do not need to contact anyone else, or send any forms or documents. If you do not sign up for Baby Box, you can still apply for Best Start Grant and Best Start Foods. To apply, you'll need to send a MATB1 certificate to Social Security Scotland once you've finished filling in your form.

You should also give your National Insurance number when you apply. If you do not give your National Insurance number to Social Security Scotland it could cause a delay.

Find out what you can do if you do not know your National Insurance number.

If you need help to apply, or you'd prefer to apply by phone, you can call 0800 182 2222.

The 10 sections of the form should take about 10-20 minutes to complete.

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