Scottish Child Payment conditions have changed. In some cases, you can get a payment for every child you look after who's under 16.
As well as Scottish Child Payment, you may be able to get other benefits to help towards the costs of supporting your family. This includes Best Start Grant and Best Start Foods.
Best Start Grant
Best Start Grant is made up of 3 one-off payments. The 3 Best Start Grant payments are:
1. Pregnancy and Baby Payment
This is a payment of either £353.65 or £707.25 to help towards the costs of pregnancy or looking after a baby. You can apply 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.
If you can get the Pregnancy and Baby Payment for your first child, you'll be paid £707.25. You'll be paid £353.65 for any child that comes after your first, such as your second or third child, or any child after these.
If your baby was stillborn, or your baby died after they were born, you can apply up to 6 months after their birth date. If you have taken over looking after a child, you can apply up to 12 months after their birth date.
You can only apply for Scottish Child Payment after a baby is born. This means if you or your partner are currently pregnant, you'll need to apply for Scottish Child Payment when the baby is born.
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.
2. Early Learning Payment
This is a payment of £294.70 for each child aged between 2 years old and 3 years 6 months old. You can spend the 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.
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.
3. School Age Payment
This is a payment of £294.70 for each child you can get the payment for. 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
|Between 1 June 2023 and 29 February
|Between 1 March 2019 and 29 February
|Between 1 June 2024 and 28 February
You cannot apply before or after these dates.
You cannot apply for the School Age Payment for a child born before 1 March 2015.
Automatic payments of Best Start Grant’s Early Learning Payment and School Age Payment
Social Security Scotland recognises that applying for benefits can be difficult. To make things easier, we can now make automatic payments for certain benefits without the need to apply.
If you get Scottish Child Payment and your child meets the age conditions, Social Security Scotland also automatically check if you can get these payments:
- Best Start Grant Early Learning Payment
- Best Start Grant School Age Payment
If you do not get Scottish Child Payment, you need to apply for these payments separately.
Social Security Scotland will send you a text message or email to let you know they’re checking if your child can get these payments.
If you get the payment, you’ll get a letter telling you how much you’ll be paid. The payment reference will appear in your bank account as your National Insurance Number followed by 'SSS BSG'. You might get the payment before you get your letter due to delays with the post.
Social Security Scotland cannot automatically pay Best Start Grant Pregnancy and Baby Payment or Best Start Foods. You still need to apply for these payments.
You can opt out of these payments by:
- calling us free on 0800 182 2222
- webchat at mygov.scot/contact-social-security-scotland
You must tell us if your circumstances change as it may affect your payments. Read more about reporting a change of circumstances.
Read more about the age conditions of Best Start Grant or Best Start Foods on this page.
Best Start Foods
Best Start Foods is a prepaid card that you can use to buy healthy foods. You can use the card in shops and online.
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:
- £19.80 every 4 weeks during pregnancy
- £39.60 every 4 weeks from your child being born, up until they're 1 year old
- £19.80 every 4 weeks when your child is aged between 1 and 3 years old
The benefits you need to be on to get Best Start Foods 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 £726 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 £18,725 per year
- Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit – your income from working must be less than £8,717 per year
- Housing Benefit – you and your partner's joint income from working must be less than £358 a week
You can apply for these benefits at the same time as you apply for Scottish Child Payment. Using the same form to apply for all 3 will not affect whether or not you can get any of the benefits. Social Security Scotland just need to ask you a few extra questions in your application.
If you'd prefer, you can apply for Best Start Grant and Best Start Foods separately.
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'.
If your child is over 16
If your child is aged 16 to 19, they may get Educational Maintenance Allowance (EMA). Find out more about Educational Maintenance Allowance.
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