Information

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How it works

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 passed. 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'.

About Best Start Grant

The 3 Best Start Grant payments are:

Pregnancy and Baby Payment

Pregnancy and Baby Payment helps with the costs of having a baby. You can apply for this payment during pregnancy to help prepare for your baby's arrival, or after your baby is born.

You can get Pregnancy and Baby Payment any time after you have reached the end of the 24th week of pregnancy until the day your baby is 6 months old. If your baby is born before 24 weeks, you can apply from this date up to the day your baby is 6 months old. If you've taken over looking after a child, for example, if you've adopted, you can apply up to the day before the child's first birthday.

You can get Pregnancy and Baby Payment for multiple children, as long as each child is the right age when you apply. The amount paid for each child will be different if you have more than one child.

You'll get a Pregnancy and Baby Payment of £606 for your first child. 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 over looking after, for example, if you've adopted, or kinship care.

This will change to a payment of £303 for any child that comes after your first. For example, your second or third child, or any child after these.

You can use the payment for anything you need. This could include:

  • pregnancy clothes
  • a pram
  • a cot
  • baby clothes
  • toys

Applying for a multiple birth

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
£606 £303 £303 £1,212

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
£303 £303 £303 £909

If you apply for triplets

If you have triplets, you'll be paid an extra £303 on top of what you get for twins. This means you'd get either:

  • £1,515 if you do not have any other children under 16
  • £1,212 if you do have other children under 16

Early Learning Payment

Early Learning Payment is a payment of £252.50 per child to help with the costs of early learning. You can get the payment when your child is aged between 2 years old and 3 years and 6 months old. To get this payment your child does not need to go to nursery.

You can get Early Learning Payment for multiple children, as long as each child is the right age when you apply.

You can spend this money on anything you need for your child at this age. This could include:

  • clothes
  • toys
  • trips to new places

School Age Payment

School Age Payment is a payment of £252.50 per child. It helps with the costs of preparing for school when your child is first old enough to start primary school.

You can get the payment for multiple children, as long as each child is the right age when you apply.

To get a payment, your child does not have to take up a place at school. You'll still need to apply in the year that your child is first old enough to start school, if:

  • you're deferring when you child starts school
  • your child is not going to school

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 2016 and 28 February 2017 Between 1 June 2021 and 28 February 2022
Between 1 March 2017 and 28 February 2018 Between 1 June 2022 and 28 February 2023

The application dates for children born between 1 March 2015 and 29 February 2016 have now passed. You cannot apply for a child outside of these dates.

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

You can spend this money on anything you need for your child at this age. This could include:

  • clothes
  • school trips
  • stationery for school

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

You can still get the Pregnancy and Baby Payment part of Best Start Grant for a baby that was 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.

If you do not live in Scotland, you will not be able to get Best Start Grant. You might be able to get Sure Start Maternity Grant instead if you live in England, Wales or Northern Ireland.

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.

There is usually only one Best Start Grant payment for each life event.

An exception can be made if the responsibility for a child changes within the same application window. For example, if a child moves to live with a different kinship carer or adoptive parent. In these cases, one additional payment can be made.

An additional payment can be made for all three Best Start Grant payments – Pregnancy and Baby, Early Learning, and School Age.

Certain people can't receive a change of responsibility payment. This is because they may have been living with the first grant recipient when the original payment was awarded.

About Best Start Foods

Best Start Foods is a prepaid card that can help you buy healthy foods like milk or fruit, if one of the following applies to you. For example:

  • you're pregnant
  • you have a child under 3

The amount you get on your prepaid card will change depending on the age of your child. The Best Start Foods payments are:

  • £18 every 4 weeks during pregnancy – the payment amount is per pregnancy. This means the payment amount is the same whether you're pregnant with one baby, or if you're having twins or triplets
  • £36 every 4 weeks from your child being born up until they're one year old
  • £18 every 4 weeks when your child is between the ages of one and 3 years old

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

Application approval date First payment date
1 August 2021 16 August 2021
29 August 2021 13 September 2021
26 September 2021 11 October 2021
24 October 2021 8 November 2021
21 November 2021 6 December 2021

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.

If you live in England, Wales or Northern Ireland

If you do not live in Scotland, you will not be able to get Best Start Foods. You might be able to get Healthy Start vouchers instead.

If you live in England or Wales, you can find out more about Healthy Start on GOV.UK.

If you live in Northern Ireland, you can find out more about Healthy Start on nidirect.gov.uk.

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