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Best Start Grant and Best Start Foods

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

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

Best Start Grant is 3 cash payments. Each payment can only be paid once per child.

The 3 Best Start Grant payments are:

1. Pregnancy and Baby Payment

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.

In most cases, your baby needs to be aged under 6 months old for you to get the Pregnancy and Baby payment. If you took over looking after a child, the age limit would be 1 year old. If you could not apply within that time frame due to the disruption caused by coronavirus (COVID-19), you can still apply. Social Security Scotland will consider your form.

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 £606.

You'll be paid £303 for any child that comes after your 1st, such as your 2nd or 3rd child, or any child after these.

If you 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
£606 £303 £303 £1212

If you 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
£303 £303 £303 £909

If you have triplets, you'll be paid an extra £303 on top of what you get for twins. £1515 if you do not have any other children under 16, £1212 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.

2. Early Learning Payment

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

In most cases, your child needs to be aged between 2 years and 3 years and 6 months old for you to get the Early Learning Payment. If you could not apply within that time frame due to the disruption caused by coronavirus (COVID-19), you can still apply. Social Security Scotland will consider your form.

If you get the Early Learning Payment, you'll get £252.50 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.

3. School Age Payment

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 can apply
Between 1 March 2014 and 28 February 2015 Last date for applications was 29 February 2020
Between 1 March 2015 and 29 February 2016 Between 1 June 2020 and 28 February 2021
Between 1 March 2016 and 28 February 2017 Between 1 June 2021 and 28 February 2022

You cannot apply outwith these dates.

You cannot apply for the School Age Payment for a child born before 1 March 2014.

If you get the School Age Payment, you'll get £252.50 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

Best Start Foods is a prepaid card that you can use to buy healthy foods for children under 3. You can use the card in shops and online.

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.

Best Start Foods payments

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

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

The following table shows the payment dates for the next few months:

Application approval date First payment date
17 January 2021 1 February 2021
14 February 2021 1 March 2021
14 March 2021 29 March 2021
11 April 2021 26 April 2021
9 May 2021 24 May 2021
6 June 2021 21 June 2021

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.

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.

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 do not get any other benefits, you normally need to be under 18 to be able to get Best Start Grant. If you could not apply before you turned 18 because of disruption caused by coronavirus (COVID-19), you should still apply - Social Security Scotland will still consider your form. 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.

Best Start Foods and income limits

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 benefits

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 (8am to 6pm, Monday to Friday). You can also download and fill in our paper form. You cannot apply online.

If you're a parent under 18

Best Start Grant

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

Early Learning Payment or School Age Payment

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

Pregnancy and Baby Payment

You can apply for the Pregnancy and Baby Payment yourself.

Someone else can apply for you as long as they are getting any of these for you:

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

Best Start Foods

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

If you're between 16 and 18 years old, you have the same choice when applying for Best Start Foods as you do for Pregnancy and Baby Payment (as explained above).

If you're under 16, 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 (8am to 6pm, Monday to Friday). They can also download and fill in our paper form. They cannot apply online.

If you're not sure whether you're the main person looking after a child

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
  • a single father

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, the child must be named on your claim for one of these benefits:

  • Child Benefit
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Universal Credit
  • Pension Credit

If you or your partner are kinship carers or adoptive parents, you need something to show you look after the child. This can be a copy of either:

  • a letter from your local council
  • a legal order

The type of legal order you need to have includes:

  • a Kinship Care Order
  • a Residence Order
  • a Guardianship Order
  • a Parental Order
  • an Adoption Order

You or your partner might have a written kinship care agreement with the local council. This can also be used as supporting information for your application for Best Start Grant or Best Start Foods.

Other benefits you might be able to get

As well as Best Start Grant and Best Start Foods, you may be able to get Scottish Child Payment. This is to help towards the costs of supporting a family.

How it works

It's a weekly payment of £10 that you can get for every child you look after who's under 6 years of age. You'll get the payment every 4 weeks if your application is successful.

Anyone applying for Scottish Child Payment will not get a decision until after 15 February 2021. The first payments will reach families after 22 February 2021. Social Security Scotland are expecting a high number of applications, so payments might take longer.

Who should apply

You may be able to get Scottish Child Payment if all of the following apply:

  • you live in Scotland
  • you or your partner are getting certain benefits or payments
  • you or your partner are the main person looking after a child who's under 6 years old
You may want to apply for Best Start Grant and Best Start Foods as well as Scottish Child Payment. You can apply for all of them in the same form to save yourself some time.

If you'd prefer, you can apply for Scottish Child Payment separately.

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

What you need to apply

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 Best Start Grant payments 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 we need you to send us a certificate or anything else, we'll tell you this when you're filling in your online 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.

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

If you need help or you want to apply by phone

If you need help, or you'd prefer to apply by phone, you can call 0800 182 2222 (8am to 6pm, Monday to Friday).

If you want to apply by post

You can also apply by downloading a paper form and posting it to Social Security Scotland.

Due to coronavirus (COVID-19), you might have to submit a form for Best Start Grant or Best Start Foods after the age limit on payments has past. For example, the age limit for the Early Learning Payment is 3 years and 6 months old. If your form is submitted after the age limit for a payment, let Social Security Scotland know by telling them in the 'If you think there's anything else we need to know' box at the end of the application form. You do not need to explain in detail, just tell them it's late due to coronavirus. If, when applying, you get any warning that your application is late, ignore the warning and select 'continue with my application'.

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