Guest blog from Jeane Freeman, Scotland's Social Security Minister on the Best Start Grant
Almost at the end of the Easter holidays and I know many families are busy with activities and outings.
It’s a time for lots of fun but can also end up being expensive – especially for families with more than one child.
And for low income families, it can be even harder to find the money.
We know that’s not just a problem that comes up at holiday times. It’s a problem that starts even before a baby is born, when prams and cots that might need to be bought bring added expense to tight budgets.
Our new social security service wants to help.
We are planning to give low income families with young children extra financial support, up to a total of £1100 for the first child and up to £800 for each child after that.
The Best Start Grant will replace the UK Government Sure Start Maternity Grant in Scotland, offering low income families a £600 payment when they have their first child and two new payments per child of £250 when the child can access a nursery place and when he or she starts school.
As well as helping with the extra costs of a new baby, we’re introducing these two later payments to make sure families can, for example, buy toys for learning at home or help pay for learning activities out of school.
And we won’t put a cap on the number of children who can be helped in a family. So we will also provide a £300 payment on the birth of a second and all subsequent children in a family and each one will also receive the two payments of £250. This additional support worth £800 for the second and all subsequent children is another major improvement and one that matters to families across Scotland.
This is an increase of up to £1400 more than the current UK system for a two-child family. We want to make this major investment in children and families because we know how much those early years matter and how much parents want to do their very best for each child.
A consultation has begun on the details of how the grant will work, and we are keen to hear from as many people as possible.
We are building a new public service for Scotland that will treat people with dignity, fairness and respect, and our Best Start Grant consultation is an important part of that service.
As one of 11 benefits to be paid as part of the new Scottish social security system, the grant will be a big help to those families who need it most.
This is another step we’re taking to help families make sure that every child has the best start in life.
The consultation closes on the 15th of June 2018