Best Start Grants and Baby Payments

The Best Start Grant is a package of three payments that will give extra money to low income families during the early years of a child’s life. The three payments are:

  • Pregnancy and baby payment – eligible parents / carers can get a £600 payment for their first child, £300 for any subsequent children
  • Early learning payment – eligible parents / carers can get a £250 payment for each child, paid around the time of starting pre-school / early learning
  • School Age Payment – eligible parents / carers can get a £250 payment for each child, paid around the time of starting school

Best Start Foods

Best Start Foods is a prepaid card that you can use to buy healthy foods for children under 3. The payments of Best Start Foods are:

  • £17 every 4 weeks during pregnancy
  • £34 every 4 weeks from your child being born up until they're a 1 year old
  • £17 every 4 weeks between the ages of 1 and 3

For information on Best Start Grants, Pregnancy and Baby Payment and Best Start Foods, families can visit mygov.scot/pregnancy-and-baby-payment or call the Agency on 0800 182 2222.

You can apply online for the Best Start Grants and Best Start Foods on the mygov.scot website (the link to the online application form is at the bottom of the page)

Apply online

Best Start Grants

Pregnancy and baby payment - You can apply for the Pregnancy and Baby Payment from 24 weeks pregnant up to the day your baby is 6 months old. This goes up to 1 year old if you've taken over looking after a child, such as if you've adopted.

Early learning payment - You can apply from your child's second birthday up to the day your child is 3 years 6 months old.

School age payment - You can apply for the School Age Payment in the year your child should be starting school.

Exact dates when you must apply depend on when your child was born:

Your child's date of birth

When you need to apply

Between 1 March 2014 and 28 February 2015

Between 3 June 2019 and 29 February 2020

Between 1 March 2015 and 29 February 2016

Between 1 June 2020 and 28 February 2021

You cannot apply outwith these dates.

If your child was born later than February 2016, you'll be able to apply after May 2021. You cannot apply for the School Age Payment for a child born before 1 March 2014.

Helping children get a fairer start

The Best Start Grant is a package of three payments, delivered by Social Security Scotland, that will give extra money to lower-income families during the early years of a child’s life.

The Pregnancy and Baby Payment will help with expenses in pregnancy or the expenses of having a baby. This replaces the DWP’s Sure Start Maternity Grant and will put more money into the pockets of families on low incomes – paying £600 on the birth of a first child and £300 for each sibling born thereafter.

Two additional payments of £250 will help with the costs of early learning and school preparation costs and are now open for applications.

Who is eligible?

To be eligible for the Pregnancy and Baby Payment, the family must live in Scotland and be in receipt of a qualifying benefit from the list below:

  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseekers Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Pension Credit
  • Universal Credit
  • Housing Benefit
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Working Tax Credit

Parents are eligible from the 24th week of pregnancy and applications can be made up until the child is 6 months old.

If you're under 18, you do not need to be on any payments or benefits to get Best Start Grant. 

If you're 18 or 19 and do not get any benefits or payments, you can still apply for Best Start Grant if your parent or carer gets Child Tax Credit, Child Benefit, Universal Credit child payments or the child addition part of Pension Credit. The Pregnancy and Baby Payment will be disregarded for UK benefit and tax credit assessments.

Best Start Foods

The Best Start Foods payments card will replace Healthy Start Vouchers. Foods can then be bought in shops or online.

You can apply for Best Start Foods when you’re pregnant, or anytime up until your child turns 3 years old. This goes to 4 years old for a child who is over 2 when you apply and that you currently get Healthy Start Vouchers for.

The payments of Best Start Foods are:

  • £17 every 4 weeks during pregnancy
  • £34 every 4 weeks from your child being born up until they are 1 year old
  • £17 every 4 weeks between the ages of 1 and 3

Who is eligible?

If you are under 18 you do not need to be on any payments or benefits to apply for Best Start Grant or Best Start Foods.

If you are a parent who is over 18 you can apply whether you are in work or not as long as you are in receipt of one of the following:

  • 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)

You cannot get Best Start Grant or Best Start Foods if you only get Child Benefit you must still be getting one of the payments or benefits from the above list.

For Best Start Grants your income is not taken into account however for Best Start Foods some benefits have an income limit.

You can only apply if you live in Scotland. If you live elsewhere in the UK you can apply for the Sure Start Maternity Grant.

Further information is available at https://www.mygov.scot/best-start-grant-best-start-foods/ and https://www.mygov.scot/benefits/

Social Security Scotland

Social Security Scotland is the new service that has been created by the Scottish Government to deliver a number of benefits. These benefits will transfer from the UK Government to the Scottish Government in stages over the next four years. At the end of the transfer process they will be delivering benefits to provide additional support for people on low incomes, disabled people, carers, young people entering the workplace and to help people heat their homes.

Social Security Scotland’s head office is in Dundee with another major base in Glasgow. Once fully operational, will also provide a local presence across Scotland. They want their clients to be able to access our services as close to their homes as possibleand in a way that suits them. Social Security Scotland will put dignity, fairness and respect at the heart of everything they do. The Council want to help claimants in our area to access the support that they are entitled to receive by signposting people to the Social Security Agency in Scotland.

You can find out more about the new devolved benefits in Scotland and the timescales for introducing them here on our website - Social Security Scotland - devolved benefits

If you don’t agree with a decision after your claim has been decided

The Scottish Social Security agency has a standard process for claimants who do not agree with a decision on their claim. If you want to challenge the decision they have made on your claim with them directly you can do so here on the mygov.scot website:

If you wish to make an appeal to the Social Security Chamber of the First-tier Tribunal for Scotland click here