In this issue:
The Scottish child payment is a new top-up benefit from the Scottish Government to lower income families with a child or children under the age of six. Advance claims opened on 9 November 2020, and payment will begin from 15 February 2021. Claims can be made:
- Online at mygov.scot/scottish-child-payment
- By phone on 0800 182 2222
- By post on a paper form which can be downloaded or sent to you (large print available on request)
- In British Sign Language via the contactSCOTLAND app
- In over 100 languages by phone or post
Claims made now will be paid from 15 February, but claims made after that date will be paid from the date that the claim is made, with no backdating possible. Claims can be made for best start grant and best start foods on the same form at the same time. The Scottish child payment is £10.00 a week for each eligible child under the age of six, payable every four weeks.
For more information on eligibility for the Scottish child payment see our online resource on Scottish benefits.
From 14 January 2021, further changes and clarifications have been made to tax credits, mostly in response to the coronavirus pandemic. These include:
- Periods of self-isolation due to NHS contact tracing or when instructed not to work due to coronavirus restrictions are ignored when calculating normal working hours for working tax credit (WTC).
- WTC claimants can continue to be treated as in work if put on furlough after a period on sickness, maternity, parental bereavement or adoption leave (or vice versa).
- WTC claimants can continue to be treated as in work if one furloughed job ends, but accept an offer to start a new job of sufficient hours within four weeks, and are then notified that they are not required to work all or any of their contracted hours due to coronavirus.
- Furloughed and coronavirus-impacted workers have an additional 8 weeks to re-establish their normal working hours once the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme ends (currently due to end 30 April 2021).
- The four week run-on of WTC is payable after that 8 week period, or if a claimant has otherwise ceased to be furloughed worker or a coronavirus-impacted worker.
- Winter support fund payments (one-off payment of £100 for families in receipt of free school meals) are ignored as income. Best start foods payments and payments from the Scottish Government to women affected by mesh implant surgery are also ignored.
A new child winter heating assistance payment was introduced before Christmas for all families with a severely disabled child, aged 18 or under and receiving the highest rate of the care component of disability living allowance (DLA), regardless of other income, savings or benefits. The £200 payment should have been paid automatically for each severely disabled child who is resident in Scotland and was entitled to DLA in the week 21 to 27 September 2020. If DLA is awarded later but backdated to cover this date, child winter heating assistance is payable. Clients who are eligible but have not received a payment, should contact Social Security Scotland.
My client is three months pregnant with her first child and has applied for all of the above. She is a single person on universal credit with no other income. She can get best start foods now but not the best start grant or the Scottish child payment. Meanwhile, her sister has just had her first child. She is a single person on universal credit, and £655.20 a month Statutory Maternity Pay. She was refused best start foods so doesn’t think she can get the best start grant or the Scottish child payment. What’s the difference?
Your client needs to re-apply for a best start grant (pregnancy and baby payment) after she is at least 24 weeks pregnant. She will also need to apply for the Scottish child payment when her baby is born. Everyone who meets the conditions for best start foods will also be eligible for the best start grant and Scottish child payment, but needs to claim again at the right time.
Your client’s sister is earning just over the £610 limit for best start foods. However, there is no earnings limit for the best start grant or Scottish child payment, so she will be entitled to these payments if she applies for them. Any amount of universal credit (or certain other benefits) is enough to qualify. Someone who is refused best start foods due to earnings should apply again for the best start grant after at least 24 weeks pregnancy, and the Scottish child payment when the baby is born.
See our online resource on Scottish benefits for more information.