Scottish Government plans to make family benefit payments automatic

Scottish Government plans to make family benefit payments automatic

Ben Macpherson

Plans have been announced to automatically pay the Best Start Grant Early Learning and School Age Payments to parents and carers who already receive Scottish Child Payment when their children become eligible.

The change will be introduced later this year when Scottish Child Payment is extended to under-16s and increased to £25 per child, per week.

This builds on extensive work already done to make applying for the Scottish Government’s five family payments as straightforward as possible. It includes the ability to apply for all children in a household on a single form. The form can be completed online, by phone or on paper. Parents and carers contributed to the design of the form to make sure the language was clear and easy to navigate.

As set out in the recent Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan ‘Best Start, Bright Futures’, the introduction of automatic awards will remove the need for eligible families receiving Scottish Child Payment to reapply when their child becomes eligible for the Early Learning and School Age Payments. This will mean less paperwork for tens of thousands of families and ensure that families automatically receive the support to which they’re entitled.

On a visit to FARE Scotland in Glasgow, minister for social security, Ben Macpherson, said: “Tackling child poverty is a key mission for the Scottish Government and automating payments, where we already have all of the information we need to do so, will mean parents and carers automatically getting the financial support they are eligible for paid directly to them.

“Since launching Best Start Grant in December 2018, we’ve made more than 177,000 payments, totalling £55.3 million in support, families who need it most. Automating payments, where we can, will enable us to help even more families.

“We are committed to making sure that receiving our five family payments is as straightforward as possible. Automatic awards, increasing Scottish Child Payment to £20, and again to £25 by the end of the year, and uprating eight Scottish benefits by 6% are some of the ways we are using our limited social security powers and resources to help families in need.”

Jimmy Wilson, chief executive of FARE Scotland, added: “There are families who aren’t aware of all the benefits to which they’re entitled so anything that can be done to make the process simpler is to be welcomed.

“It’s more important than ever that people understand the help which is there for them.

“The advantages in having automatic awards could be significant. We hope this move has a positive impact on take up rates which could help to reduce and prevent child poverty and support family wellbeing.”

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