Payments to start from late February.
More than 77,000 Scottish Child Payment applications have been received since Social Security Scotland started taking applications on 9 November.
The new benefit, which is unique to Scotland, will give qualifying parents and carers £40 every four weeks for each child under six.
The benefit starts today, meaning that Social Security Scotland is now able to do final eligibility checks and start issuing decisions.
The first decisions and payments will arrive from later this month.
Payments for those who applied today or earlier will be calculated from today. Parents and carers have not yet applied and have a child under six are encouraged to apply today to get the maximum amount of money they are entitled to.
People who apply after today will have their payment calculated from the day that they apply.
Social Security Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said:
“This is a fantastic response to our new payment. Today marks the day that parents and carers will become eligible for Scottish Child Payment. We’ve had a great response and this is a very large number of applications. It will take time to work through these applications and I’d like to ask families for their patience while we work as quickly as we can to process these.
“The Scottish Child Payment is the most ambitious anti-poverty measure currently being undertaken anywhere in the UK. Announced in late June 2019 the new payment has been achieved at great speed.
“In 2021-22 we will invest £3.6 billion in social security payments supporting carers, young people, and low income families including £68 million for this new payment. Significantly more families are now relying on benefits due to the pandemic – some perhaps for the first time. Scottish Child Payment will help lift children in Scotland out of poverty.
“We are proactively promoting this payment and we have written to everyone on the Universal Credit and HMRC tax credit databases who may be eligible to invite them to apply. .
"Covid-19 restrictions continue to put additional pressure on parents and carers and I recognise how busy families are. But I'd like to take this opportunity to encourage anyone who hasn't yet applied, to take ten minutes to get their application in - it's vital that people get the money they are entitled to.”
Scottish Child Payment has been introduced ahead of schedule for children under six by building on the existing infrastructure for Best Start Grant payments. The payment is planned to be fully rolled out to children under the age of 16 by the end of 2022. This is subject to data on qualifying benefits being received from the DWP to enable Social Security Scotland to make top-up payments.
- Application numbers are the latest figures available and correct as of Sunday 7 February.
- People, who supplied their mobile number, will be kept up to date on the progress of their application by text.
- People who apply from Tuesday 16 February will have their payment calculated from the day that they apply.
- Scottish Fiscal Commission reviewed their forecasts in January 2021 to reflect how many families were taking up qualifying benefits from the DWP. The total figure of children forecast to be eligible for Scottish Child Payment in 2020-21 was revised slightly down to 173,000. The total number of households changed to 138,000.
- Social Security Scotland delivers a number of benefits for families. This includes Best Start Grant Pregnancy and Baby Payment, Early Learning Payment, School Age Payment and Best Start Foods. Applications can be made for Scottish Child Payment and all of these using a single straightforward form.
- Scottish Child Payment together with the three Best Start Grant payments and Best Start Foods could give families on low incomes up to £5,200 by the time their first child turns six.
- People can apply by visiting mygov.scot/benefits or calling 0800 182 2222.
- Scottish Child Payment is a new benefit and it is in addition to the UK wide Child Benefit.
- To get advice on what benefits may be available parents and carers can access free, confidential advice through Money Talk Team. Visit Parentclub.scot to find out more.