Information

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How it works

Best Start Grant and Best Start Foods are payments that help towards the costs of being pregnant or looking after a child.

When you can apply You may be able to get
Apply as soon as you know you're pregnant, or up until your child turns 3 years old. Best Start Foods

Apply after 24 weeks of pregnancy to help prepare for your baby’s arrival, or after your baby is born.

Best Start Grant – Pregnancy and Baby Payment
Apply when your child is aged between 2 and 3 years 6 months old. Best Start Grant – Early Learning Payment
Apply when your child is first old enough to start primary school. When you should apply depends on when your child was born. You need to apply in the year that your child is first old enough to start school. Best Start Grant – School Age Payment

These are the 5 family payments, along with Scottish Child Payment, you may be able to get from Social Security Scotland. You can apply for them all using the same form. You'll get separate letters to let you know whether you'll get each payment.

If you live in England, Wales or Northern Ireland, you cannot get Best Start Grant or Best Start Foods. You can apply for Sure Start Maternity Grant and Healthy Start Payments.

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 £707.25 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 £353.65 for any child that comes after your first. For example, your second or third child, or any child after these.

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 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
£707.25 £353.65 £353.65 £1,414.55

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
£353.65 £353.65 £353.65 £1,060.95

If you apply for triplets

If you have triplets, you'll be paid an extra £353.65 on top of what you get for twins. This means you'd get either:

  • £1,768.20 if you do not have any other children under 16
  • £1,414.60 if you do have other children under 16

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.

Early Learning Payment

Early Learning Payment is a payment of £294.70 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 £294.70 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 your 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 2018 and 28 February
2019
Between 1 June 2023 and 29 February
2024
Between 1 March 2019 and 29 February
2020
Between 1 June 2024 and 28 February
2025

The application dates for children born between 1 March 2017 and 28 February 2018 have now passed. You cannot apply for a child outside of these application dates.

You cannot apply for the School Age Payment for a child born before 1 March 2015.

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.

Social Security Scotland usually only make each of the payments once for the same child. If responsibility for the child changes, they may make extra payments to the person who’s now responsible for the child. For example, if a child moves to live with a different kinship carer or adoptive parent within the same application window.

About Best Start Foods

Best Start Foods is a payment that can help you buy healthy foods like milk or fruit during pregnancy and when your child is under 3.

Best Start Foods is paid every 4 weeks. The payments are:

  • £19.80 during pregnancy (you’ll get the same amount whether you’re having one or more babies)
  • £39.60 for each child from birth until they’re one year old
  • £19.80 for each child aged between one and 3 years old

If your baby’s born early, you’ll get the higher amount from birth until 1 year after the due date.

Best Start Foods payment dates

 

This table shows Best Start Foods payment dates for the next few months:

Application approval date First payment date

14 January 2024

29 January 2024

11 February 2024

26 February 2024

10 March 2024

25 March 2024

7 April 2024

22 April 2024

5 May 2024

20 May 2024

2 June 2024

17 June 2024

30 June 2024

15 July 2024

28 July 2024

12 August 2024

25 August 2024

9 September 2024

22 September 2024

7 October 2024

20 October 2024

4 November 2024

17 November 2024

2 December 2024

15 December 2024

30 December 2024

12 January 2025

27 January 2025

You’ll get the payments on a prepaid card you can use in shops and online.

Find out how to use your Best Start Foods card, check your balance and what to do if you have a problem.

If you have no access to public funds

You may be able to get Best Start Foods for your child even if you cannot get certain benefits because of your immigration status or because you do not have a status. Find out more about getting Best Start Foods if you have no access to public funds.

If you apply late for Best Start Grant because of coronavirus (COVID-19), Social Security Scotland can accept your application. Tell them in the 'If you think there's anything else we need to know' box at the end of the application form.

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