Nearly half of Scottish grant for hard-up families spent on Pregnancy and Baby payment

Author: Caroline White

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Nearly half of the new Scottish grant for hard-up families has been spent on the Pregnancy and Baby payment, the Scottish government has announced.

Since it started making Best Start Grant payments in December 2018, Social Security Scotland has made more than 42,000 payments to families in Scotland, totalling £12.9 million.

The Best Start Grant comprises three payments ─ Pregnancy and Baby; Early Learning; and School Age ─ made to families in receipt of eligible benefits, including universal credit.

Of the total paid out between December and June this year, nearly half (£6.1 million) was for the Pregnancy and Baby Payment, which replaced the UK government’s Sure Start Maternity Grant in Scotland.

In 2017-18, the government paid out a total of £2 million in Sure Start Maternity payments in Scotland for the whole year.

The Best Start Grant also introduced two brand new payments: the Early Learning Payment, which has paid out £4.3 million; and the School Age Payment, which has paid out £2.4 million.

Speaking on a visit to meet parents who have benefited from the new payment at Kelty Community Centre, social security secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said the response to the new Best Start Grant had been “absolutely exceptional.”

She continued: “Alongside increasing the financial support for eligible parents, we have removed the UK’s previous one child limit, reaching children who would have received nothing from the Sure Start Maternity Grant. And we have created two new payments to support families during key stages of a child’s life.”

Commenting on the announcement, Mary Ross-Davie, director for Scotland at the Royal College of Midwives, said: "This is welcome additional support targeted for the families that need financial help the most. I am also glad to hear the news of such high uptake of the new grant.”

She added: "We know that pregnancy and early parenthood is an expensive time for families and that this can add to the stress that some parents feel. The Best Start Grant is a positive targeted action from the government, along with the universal provision of the Scottish government Baby Box. Both of these actions will mean that all babies in Scotland have a more equal start. 

"Midwives know how important it is to invest in new mothers, babies and families. We know that investment in the early years of life pays dividends for all of our communities across Scotland.”

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