Social Security

New Scottish Benefits Help Families

Report shows positive impact of Best Start Grant payments.

Scotland’s least well-off families have seen a marked increase in their income from three Scottish Government benefits, according to an evaluation published today.

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 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 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.

“I would urge anyone who gets a benefit or tax credits to check if you are eligible for these payments and to apply. And 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.”

Paula, from Forfar who received the Best Start Grant Early Years Payment for her daughter, Arwen 3 said:

“I work 12 hours a week as a treasurer for our local church but because I also receive Universal Credit due to being on my own with two children, I qualified for the Best Start Grant Early Years Payment.“It was easy and straightforward to apply online and money was paid direct into my bank account once the application was completed.

“I am very good at planning ahead and budgeting for uniforms or school shoes or normal shoes or just clothes and jackets, that kind of thing, so to receive that extra money was just a nice thing for the family and for us to spend time together.

“We received the payment during the summer holidays which was a great bonus, it let us have the opportunity to go away for a couple of family day trips to places like the safari park.”

During the course of the evaluation research, a recipient of Best Start Grant Pregnancy and Baby Payment said:

“I didn’t apply until after she was born because I just thought I’ll not get it. Because you do kind of think ‘och no I’m not going to, I’ll never get that’ and luckily when the baby was born I spoke to my friends a wee bit more and I was like ‘do you know what. I will’. What’s the harm. You pay your taxes all your life and work really hard so why shouldn’t you get something back?” *


  • read the full interim evaluation report:  Interim Evaluation of Best Start Grant
  • Interim Evaluation of Best Start Grant: Annex B: Qualitative Research
  • parents and carers aged 18/19 do not need to be in receipt of a qualifying benefit if they are dependent on someone else, i.e. they are named on their parent or carer’s benefit claim. Parents and carers under the age of 18 do not need to be on any payments or benefits to qualify for Best Start Grant
  • Best start Grant is three payments to help families at key stages in a child’s life
  • Pregnancy and Baby Payment was launched Dec 2018
  • Early Learning Payment launched in April 2019
  • School Age Payment was launched in June 2019
  • *quote sourced from p. 42 of the Qualitative Research supporting the evaluation (link above)
  • people can find eligibility criteria and apply online at or by calling 0800 182 2222
  • families can get financial advice from the Money Talk Teams at or by calling 0800 085 7145
Social Security

£540 Million in Scottish Benefit Payments Since Launch of New System

Social Security Scotland reports on its first full financial year.

The Scottish Government has provided people who need it with over £540 million in payments since launch in September 2018 up to 31 March 2020, according to the Social Security Scotland’s annual report published today.

From 1 September 2018 to 31 March 2020, benefits were delivered that support low income families during key stages in a child’s life, people struggling to pay for funerals and unpaid carer

The support paid over the course of the financial year reporting period 1 April 2019 to 31 March 2020 totalled £346.7 million.

A further three benefits have been introduced since March 2020. Job Start Payment, Child Winter Heating Assistance and the Scottish Child Payment which is estimated could pay an extra £142 million to people in Scotland every year.

Joe FitzPatrick MSP (right) with David Wallace (left), Chief Executive of Social Security Scotland, on a tour of their Dundee offices.

Social Security Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said:

“Social security is the most significant new public service to be created in Scotland since devolution.

“Social Security Scotland’s latest annual report shows that our new service is already supporting thousands of low income people including families with young children, carers and those who have lost loved ones. It paid out £346.7 million in the last financial year and we expect this to be much higher when we report again next year given the introduction of three more benefits – including the game changing Scottish Child Payment.

“What’s also encouraging is that over 80% of clients who rated their experience of applying for Scotland’s benefits said it was good. Making sure we get money to those who need it is our priority but to truly do things differently we want to make sure that people have a good experience – that they are treated with dignity, fairness and respect.

“Of the ten benefits we currently offer, seven are completely new forms of assistance and the others are more generous than the UK benefits they replace. And despite the impact of Covid-19, we have introduced three new benefits in the last four months and our new Scottish Child Payment that will provide eligible parents and carers with an additional £10 per child per week is open to applications and will be paid from the end of February 2021.

“Over the course of this year, the service has continued to grow and take on new responsibilities. And next year will bring even greater challenges with the introducing of the more complex disability benefits. People can be reassured that we will continue to ensure that our social security system is there for people when they need it, and is something they can be proud of.”

Chief Executive of Social Security Scotland, David Wallace said:

“I’m very proud of what we have achieved during the 2019/20 reporting period and since launching our brand new public service. And I’m pleased we have been able to effectively get money to so many people in Scotland who need it.

“There is still a lot more to do as we prepare to start to deliver the more complex disability payments and our service will continue to grow.

“The annual report demonstrates all that we have accomplished. Looking forward, our new Corporate Plan sets out what we will do to deliver on our responsibilities in the future.

“And our Charter Measurement Framework co-designed by people with lived experience of benefits – will help us measure our success.”


  • Payments made during the reporting period of 1 April 2019 to 31 March 2020 include Best Start Grant Pregnancy and Baby Payment, Best Start Grant Early Learning Payment, Best Start Grant School Age Payment, Best Start Foods, Carer’s Allowance Supplement, Young Carer Grant and Funeral Support Payment.
  • Social Security Scotland also reports on Carer’s Allowance payments that are made on its behalf through the Department for Work and Pensions.
  • Over £537 million in benefit expenditure was recorded in the Social Security Scotland annual report (£346.7 million in 2019/20 and £190.9 million in the seven months of 2018/19) with an additional £6.9 million in 2019/20 Best Start Foods payments coming from the Scottish Government’s health budget. Best Start Foods spend is accounted for in the Scottish Government’s annual accounts.
  • As of 23 November 2020, Social Security Scotland now directly administers ten benefits. Benefits introduced in 2020/21 include Job Start Payment (introduced August 2020), Scottish Child Payment (applications accepted from November 2020 with payments to start end February 2021) and Child Winter Heating Assistance (introduced November 2020)
  • Read Social Security Scotland’s latest Annual Report
  • Read Social Security Scotland’s Charter Measurement Framework 
  • Read Social Security Scotland’s Corporate Plan
  • People can find out more and apply for Social Security Scotland benefits by visiting