Scottish Government Viewpoint
THERE will be an early Christmas present for new mums and dads on low incomes across Scotland but the good news does not stop there...
The first Best Start Grant Pregnancy and Baby Payment will be made before the big day, it was confirmed, after applications opened on Monday.
The payment will see eligible applicants receive £600 for their first child, £100 more than the DWP Sure Start Maternity Grant it replaces.
The Best Start Grant also provides £300 for all subsequent children – meaning there is no cap on the number of children it supports, unlike the current UK government equivalent.
In addition, two additional early years payments will be introduced by next summer.
The first £250 payment will be made around the time a child starts nursery, to help with the costs of early learning and a further £250 when they start school.
Social Security Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said: "I am delighted we will be delivering the Best Start Grant Pregnancy and Baby Payment earlier than originally planned, providing low income families with increased financial support.
"I am particularly pleased that by not capping children, babies born in the last six months who already have a big brother or sister and had no support from the UK government because they were not the first child, will be eligible to get their payment.
"With the Early Learning and School Age Payments this means that for a two child family, the Best Start Grant will provide £1400 to £1900 more than they would get under the UK legacy benefit.
"That's a substantial investment to ensure our under 5s get the best possible start in life and reflects this government's emphasis on the early years.
"Our focus on supporting people on low incomes, and the action we are taking stands in stark contrast to the UK government which was recently criticised by the United Nations' Poverty Rapporteur for being in denial about the damage and misery that their welfare cuts are causing."
• The benefit will be wholly delivered by Social Security Scotland.
• Parents/carers will be eligible if they are the mother of the child, her partner, or have a young mother dependent on them.
• The benefits which qualify include Universal Credit, Income Support, Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance, Income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Pension Credit, Housing Benefit, Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit.
• Recipients do not have to be on a qualifying benefit if under 18 or are 18 or 19 and in full-time education and still dependent on parent or carer.