News

Best start grant for young asylum seekers

Published: 29 May 2019 09:30

Pregnancy and baby benefit will not jeopardise immigration status.

Young asylum seekers are now eligible to receive financial support on the birth of their children.

Those aged under-18 can apply for the Best Start Grant Pregnancy and Baby Payment after the Scottish Government reached agreement with the UK Government that it would not jeopardise their immigration status.

The Scottish Government launched the benefit in December. It provides £600 for the first child and £300 for each subsequent child.

Social Security Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said:

“When we launched the Pregnancy and Baby Payment I said it would help give all children in Scotland the best possible start in life and I meant that for all babies born in Scotland.

“While the number of births to young people seeking asylum in Scotland is estimated to be small, this sends a big message about the type of country we want to be: inclusive, progressive and fair.

“It shows the difference we can make with our new social security powers. By expanding the eligibility and making it easier to apply we are delivering substantive improvements on the DWP system.”

Background

Asylum seekers are among a group of people termed as having no recourse to public funds. That means there are certain UK benefits that individuals subject to immigration control are legally barred from receiving. They are listed in the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999. The list includes most of the major UK benefits, such as Universal Credit and Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance.

The Scottish Government sought to exclude the Pregnancy and Baby Payment from the list of restricted public funds so that the relatively small number of eligible under-18s would be able to receive the payment without jeopardising their immigration status. For applicants over the age of 18, their immigration status must be resolved during the process of establishing eligibility for the qualifying benefit.