Family benefits to be awarded automatically

Plans have been announced to automatically pay the Best Start Grant Early Learning and School Age Payments to parents and carers who already receive Scottish Child Payment when their children become eligible.

The change will be introduced later this year when Scottish Child Payment is extended to under-16s and increased to £25 per child, per week.

This builds on changes to make applying for the Scottish Government’s five family payments more straightforward. It includes the ability to apply for all children in a household on a single form. The form can be completed online, by phone or on paper. Parents and carers contributed to the design of the form to make sure the language was clear and easy to navigate.

The introduction of automatic awards means eligible families receiving Scottish Child Payment won’t need to reapply when their child becomes eligible for the Early Learning and School Age Payments. This will mean less paperwork for tens of thousands of families and ensure that families automatically receive the support to which they’re entitled.

Jimmy Wilson, Chief Executive of FARE Scotland, said:

“There are families who aren’t aware of all the benefits to which they’re entitled so anything that can be done to make the process simpler is to be welcomed. The advantages in having automatic awards could be significant. We hope this move has a positive impact on take up rates which could help to reduce and prevent child poverty and support family wellbeing.”

Best Start Grant Early Learning Payment and Best Start Grant School Age Payment are part of a package of Five Family Payments which includes Best Start Grant Pregnancy and Baby Payment, Best Start Foods and Scottish Child Payment.

By the end of 2022, the Scottish Government’s package of Five Family Payments for low-income families will be worth up to a maximum of over £10,000 by the time a family’s first child turns 6, and £9,700 for second and subsequent children

The Early Learning Payment opened for applications on 29 April 2019 and provides £267.65 per child to support child development, for example travel costs, changes of clothes for messy play, trips out and toys for home learning. There is no requirement to take up a place at nursery to qualify for a payment.

The School Age Payment provides £267.65 per child to help with the costs of preparing for school, for example educational toys or after school activities. Eligibility is based on the child’s age and relates to when a child is first old enough to start school. The application window runs from 1 June in that year until the last day in February the following year. There is no requirement to take up a place at school to qualify for a payment.

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