What is it?
The Best Start Grant provides up to three separate lump sum payments.
It can be paid to qualifying parents or carers, who get certain benefits or tax credits, during key stages of their child's life. Applicants must live in Scotland to be eligible.
The three separate payments are:
- The Best Start Pregnancy and Baby Payment
- The Best Start Grant Early Learning Payment
- The Best Start Grant School Age Payment
1. Pregnancy and Baby Payment:
- It provides eligible families with a payment of £642.35 on the birth of their first child and £321.20 on the birth of any subsequent children.
- If you have a multiple birth for your first pregnancy you should be entitled to a payment of £624.35 for each child.
- Applications can be made from the 24th week of pregnancy up to 6 months after the birth of the child.
- New rules were introduced on 14 November 2022 which mean that the higher amount of £642.35, which is usually only paid for a first child can be paid to the following people for a second or subsequent child:
- Individuals granted refugee status, humanitarian protection, or leave under the Afghanistan resettlement schemes or the Ukraine resettlement schemes where the other child/children they are responsible for were born prior to their arrival in the UK.
- Individuals whose other child or children are not their own and they took responsibility for them when they were over than 12 months old
- Individuals who have been forced to leave their home, with another child or children who they are responsible for,due to domestic abuse
2. Early Learning Payment:
- It is a £252.50 payment to help with the costs of early learning when a child is between 2 and 3½ years old.
- This payment is to help with the costs of early learning around the time your child might start nursery.
3. School Age Payment:
- It is a £252.50 payment to help with the costs of preparing for school around the time a child might start Primary 1.
- The eligibility is determined by your child's date of birth. Visit the Scottish Government website to find out if you are currently eligible to apply and the relevant dates for applying.
- You cannot apply for a School Age Payment for a child born before 1 March 2014.
- You can, if eligible, get the school-age payment from Social Security Scotland in addition to qualifying for free school meals and school clothing grant.
Am I eligible?
You can get the three Best Start Grant payments listed above if all of the following apply to you at the time of your application:
- your child is the right age for the payment
- you are on certain qualifying benefits or tax credits
- you are the parent or the main carer of the child
The qualifying benefits are listed below:
- 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)
Child benefit in payment
You cannot get Best Start Grant if the only benefit you are getting is Child Benefit.
You must be getting one of the qualifying benefits listed above.
There is an exception, however, for applicants who are under 18 and do not need to be in receipt of any qualifying benefits.
Who pays it?
Social Security Scotland.
How do I apply?
The three Best Start Grant payments can be claimed online by visiting the Scottish Government website.
Alternatively, if you prefer to apply over the phone, you can call Social Security Scotland for free on 0800 182 2222 to make a claim.
Any age limits?
You can apply if are eligible regardless of your age.
Is it National Insurance based?
Is it means-tested?
You must be in receipt of one of the qualifying benefits detailed above all of which are are means-tested.
How long does it last?
The Best Start Grant scheme is made up of up to three cash payments which are paid as a lump sum. These are paid at different stages of your child's life. You can get all three payments if you meet all the criteria detailed above at the time you apply. Each payment can only be paid once per child.
Any effect on other benefits?
Is it taxable?
Can I challenge the decision?
If you are unhappy with a decision made by Social Security Scotland about a Best Start Grant application you can ask for the decision to be looked at again. This is called a ‘redetermination’. You should ask for this within one month of the date of the decision you are unhappy with.
This time limit can be extended up to a maximum of one year from the date of the decision if you have a good reason for missing the one-month time limit.
To ask for the decision to be looked at again you can:
- call Social Security Scotland for free on 0800 182 2222
- fill in the 'Ask us to look at our decision again' form which you should get along with your Best Start Grant decision letter
Social Security Scotland has 16 working days from getting your request for a redetermination to making a new redetermination decision.
If you are still unhappy with the decision after the 'redetermination', or if Social Security Scotland has not made a decision on your request within the set timescale, you can appeal to the First-tier Tribunal.
The time limit for appealing is one month from the date of the decision but this can be extended up to one year if you have a good reason for not appealing sooner.
The appeal tribunal that will look at the decision again is independent of Social Security Scotland. We can assist you through the appeals process, including representing you at the appeal hearing.