New report highlights positive impact of Best Start Grant



Scotland’s least well-off families have seen a marked increase in their income from three Scottish Government benefits, according to an evaluation published today.

The evaluation of the three Best Start Grant payments shows that families on the lowest incomes were able to buy essential items for their children as a result of these new benefits.

Best Start Grant is available to families on low incomes as their children reach certain key stages. They are able to access this whether in or out of work as long as they get one of eight qualifying benefits or tax credits available through the Department for Work and Pensions or HMRC.

People receiving the payments said that the money helped them stop getting into debt or having to cut down on other essential household spending, such food and bills. People were able to use the money to help buy essential items for their children like cots and prams, as well as to arrange days out for their family or to buy books and clothing.

The most common qualifying benefit among recipients was Child Tax Credit (57,055), followed by Universal Credit (44,810), Working Tax Credit (23,560), and Income Support (18,030). Other qualifying benefits include Housing Benefit, Jobseeker’s Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance and Pension Credit.

Parents and carers in and out of work who get benefits or tax credits are being encouraged to check if they are eligible and apply.

Shirley-Anne Somerville, social security secretary, said: “Our full Best Start Grant package has been in place since June 2019. I’m delighted that just a year and a half later that we are already getting feedback that this money is making a real difference to people’s lives.

“We continue to work hard to make sure that everyone accesses the support they are entitled to. I often hear families say that they don’t think that they can access this support because they are working. I’m glad to see so many families who are in work and on low incomes getting this extra boost. And I know that more families than ever are accessing benefits and this is important additional help for you too.

“I would urge anyone who gets a benefit or tax credits to check if you are eligible for these payments and to apply. And those eligible for Best Start Grant are now able to apply for the £10 per week Scottish Child Payment that will start in February 2021. Parents and carers can make sure they are getting everything they are entitled to by talking to the Money Talk team. This service and the Best Start Grant payments are there to help families maximise their income and to support efforts to tackle child poverty.”

Paula from Forfar, who received the Best Start Grant Early Years Payment for her three-year-old daughter Arwen, added: “I work 12 hours a week as a treasurer for our local church but because I also receive Universal Credit due to being on my own with two children, I qualified for the Best Start Grant Early Years Payment.

“It was easy and straightforward to apply online and money was paid direct into my bank account once the application was completed.

“I am very good at planning ahead and budgeting for uniforms or school shoes or normal shoes or just clothes and jackets, that kind of thing, so to receive that extra money was just a nice thing for the family and for us to spend time together.

“We received the payment during the summer holidays which was a great bonus, it let us have the opportunity to go away for a couple of family day trips to places like the safari park.”

During the course of the evaluation research, a recipient of Best Start Grant Pregnancy and Baby Payment, said: “I didn’t apply until after she was born because I just thought I’ll not get it. Because you do kind of think ‘och no I’m not going to, I’ll never get that’ and luckily when the baby was born I spoke to my friends a wee bit more and I was like ‘do you know what, I will’. What’s the harm. You pay your taxes all your life and work really hard so why shouldn’t you get something back?”



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