Up until 31 August of this year alone, North Ayrshire families received 3,640 payments from the SNP Government’s Best Start Grant.
Of these payments 1,115 were Pregnancy and Baby Payments (launched December 2018). There were 1,375 Early Learning Payments (launched April 2019) and School Age Payments (June 2019) were made 1,150 times.
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 across Scotland 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.
Social Security Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville MSP 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.
Kenneth Gibson MSP added:
“I’m delighted that eligible families across North Ayrshire are benefitting from these payments. That’s what they are there for – to provide a bit of extra support when it’s needed.
“If you are in receipt of any benefit or tax credits, please do check if you are eligible for these payments and to apply.
“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.”
Read the full interim evaluation report: Interim Evaluation of Best Start Grant
Interim Evaluation of Best Start Grant: Annex B: Qualitative Research
You can find eligibility criteria and apply online at mygov.scot or by calling 0800 182 2222.
Families can get financial advice from the Money Talk Teams at moneytalkteam.org.uk or by calling 0800 085 7145.