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 payments are:
- The Best Start Pregnancy and Baby Payment provides eligible families with £600 on the birth of their first child and £300 on the birth of any subsequent children. Applications can be made from the 24th week of the pregnancy up to 6 months after the birth of the child. It replaced the UK Government's Sure Start Maternity Grant scheme from Monday 10 December 2018.
- The Best Start Grant Early Learning Payment is a new £250 payment to help with the costs of early learning when a child is between 2 and 3½ years old. Social Security Scotland (SSSA) began taking applications for these payments on Monday 29 April 2019.
- The Best Start Grant School Age Payment is a new £250 payment to help with the costs of preparing for school around the time a child might start Primary 1. Social Security Scotland began taking applications for this payment from Monday 3 June 2019. 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 1st March 2014. You can, if eligible, get the school age payment from the SSSA in addition to qualifying for free school meals and school clothing grant from North Lanarkshire Council.
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 benefits listed above.
There is an exception however for applicants who are under 18 who do not need to be in receipt of any qualifying benefits.
Who pays it?
The Scottish Social Security Agency.
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 via the telephone you can call the Scottish Social Security Agency for free on 0800 182 2222 to make a claim.
Any age limits?
Is it National Insurance based?
Is it means-tested?
You must be in receipt of one the qualifying benefits detailed above, which 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 one off lump sum. 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 the SSSA about Best Start Grant 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.
At the moment, the one-year time limit can be extended if your request is late due to the coronavirus outbreak.
To ask for the decision to be looked at again you can:
- call SSSA 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 to deal with your request within 16 working days. During the coronavirus outbreak this deadline has been extended by nine weeks.