Nearly 10,000 low income families across Scotland got help from the new Best Start Grant Pregnancy and Baby Payment, official statistics show.
Payments were made to 2,400 families who have had their first child, according to the first published data for the new benefit.
Payments were also made to 7,300 families who had a child already and have now welcomed a new-born into their household – families who would have received nothing under the previous UK Government scheme.
In the entire 2017/18 financial year, the UK Government paid out a total of £2 million of Sure Start Maternity Grant Payments in Scotland, compared with £3.5 million, which has been paid in the first three months of the Scottish Government’s Pregnancy and Baby Payment.
Cabinet Secretary for Social Security Shirley-Anne Somerville said: “These statistics show what we can do with our social security powers to support families across the country. I am delighted that three quarters of the payments were for families who just wouldn’t have got this vital financial support under the previous UK Government scheme.
“I am committed to making sure that every child gets the support they need to have the best start in life. The huge take-up of this new benefit in its first three months highlights just what can be achieved when you design a service with the people who will actually use it. In doing so, we have simplified the application process and offered multiple ways to apply. We have found out where we need to promote the payment and who we need to work with – including health and childcare professionals - to make sure that people know that they are entitled.
“We will build on the success of Pregnancy and Baby Payment with the new Early Learning Payment that has launched today. This, along with the final Best Start Grant School Age Payment that opens on 3 June, will contribute towards making Scotland the best place for a child to grow up. We want to increase financial support to families, bringing equality to children across Scotland by giving them help towards a fairer start.”
The Pregnancy and Baby Payment provides £600 for a first child and £300 for any siblings thereafter.
Children who are not the first born in the family have no entitlement to Sure Start Grant, the UK Government benefit that the new Best Start Grant Pregnancy and Baby Payment has replaced in Scotland.
Social Security Scotland began taking applications from 29 April 2019 for the Early Learning Payment – £250 for low income families with a child ages between two and three-and-a-half to help with the costs at this key stage in early years.
The final part of the Best Start Grant package – the School Age Payment – opens for applications on Monday 3 June. This is £250 to help low income families at the time when a child would normally take up a school place.
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