A brand new benefit for low income families opens for applications on Monday 29 April.
The £250 Early Learning Payment is for children aged between two to three and a half and can be used for anything from children’s clothes and shoes to toys, books or days out.
This payment is part of the Scottish Government’s new Best Start Grant package. This financial support includes the Pregnancy and Baby Payment, which has been open for applications since December and the Best Start Grant School Age payment which will open in June.
When the School Age Payments begin in June, the Best Start Grant package, along with Carer’s Allowance Supplement, will bring the total number of Scottish Government benefits being administered by Social Security Scotland to four.
Best Start Grant is for families in receipt of eligible benefits – including Universal Credit, Income Support, Housing Benefit – and tax credits to help at key stages in a child’s life.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:
Since December, low income families have been eligible for a payment of £600 on the birth of a first child, and £300 on the birth of any siblings.
In just the first two months of the Best Start Grant, the Scottish Government got more money into people’s pockets than the DWP had managed under the old system in an entire year.
Now, we will go further.
I can announce today that low income families will get a further £250 when their child starts nursery. Applications open tomorrow. And from June they will get the same again when their child starts school.
Social Security Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said:
The Best Start Grant package will support 30,000 to 40,000 families this year – totaling an investment of £12 million. This is £10 million more than previously provided by UK Government support.
The new £250 payment will help low income families around the time a child normally starts nursery demonstrating this Government’s ambition to put more money into the pockets of families who need it most.
The announcement of applications opening for this benefit means by June, we will have four brand new benefits for low income families and carers. This is remarkable progress just a year on from the Bill passing unanimously in the Scottish Parliament.
We are encouraging take up for this benefit by simplifying the application process, providing a range of channels for people to apply and working with frontline service staff and undertaking promotional activity to ensure as many people as possible are aware they can access this support.
Talking about the new Early Leaning Payment, Katy Stoddart from Loanhead said:
I think it’s great and I’ll be applying. I’ll be getting Matthew a big boy’s bed to get him out of his cot bed.
As a single mum on benefits this will make a big difference for Matthew.