Best Start Grant: children's rights and wellbeing impact assessment

This children's rights and wellbeing impact assessment (CRWIA) considers the potential effects of the Early Years Assistance (Best Start Grants) (Scotland) Regulations 2018 and how it impacts on children.


The BSG has been developed with detailed consultation and engagement with stakeholders.

A New Future for Social Security Consultation [1] ran during summer 2016 (the report on BSG can be found on page 199 of the analysis of written responses to the Consultation on Social Security in Scotland [2] ). The BSG section sought views on key aspects of the benefit and received over 100 responses from both individuals and organisations. The views expressed, along with the findings from a stakeholder event held in May 2016, helped shape the initial proposals for BSG discussed with the BSG Reference Group.

The BSG Reference Group [3] was established in October 2016 to help gather evidence, bring a variety of informed perspectives and provide feedback on proposals. Members include the Child Poverty Action Group, Poverty Alliance, Barnardos, Save the Children, Engender, Scottish Women's Convention, One Parent Families Scotland, Parent Network Scotland, Maternity Action, COSLA, NHS Health Scotland, Early Years Scotland, Action for Children, South Lanarkshire Council, Glasgow City Council and Dundee Community Health Partnership.

Illustrative regulations for the BSG [4] were issued to the Social Security Committee and the Delegated Powers and Law Reform Committee of the Scottish Parliament on 28th September 2017, during the passage of the Social Security (Scotland) Act 2018. They were also shared with a range of stakeholders to inform further development of the policy.

The Scottish Government set up Experience Panels to ensure that people with direct personal experience of the current benefits system could help us decide how benefits are delivered in Scotland's new social security system. We have received, and are continuing to take, views from Experience Panel members and other parents, including young parents, on the design of the form and service to deliver BSG. A summary of research findings [5] was published in August 2018.

Early Years Assistance, a Consultation on the Best Start Grant Regulations [6] ran from 26 March to 15 June 2018 which allowed us to gather further feedback on our proposals and develop final policy. Particular questions were asked about how young parents access the BSG, about the test of responsibility for the child. The consultation summarised the findings of impacts assessments to that point and sought views on any further impacts. We met the Children's Commissioner during the consultation. There were 51 responses to the consultation.

We are now in the final stages of developing the business processes which will allow people to access and receive the BSG. We have taken an 'Agile' approach to service design, which means that we have continually tested evolving designs with clients to make the application process as user-friendly as possible. Some of the groups we have engaged with include working families, single parents, kinship carers, young parents, bereaved parents, and those with an impairment or disability.

This research has enabled us to make sure the language used in the BSG application form is easy to understand and has helped us to design evidence gathering processes which put minimum burden on the applicant. After we start to make payments, we will continue to take on board feedback from service users in order to enhance our IT systems and ensure Social Security Scotland staff have what they need to provide a high level of service. This will all contribute to ensuring the service we provide has dignity and respect at its heart.

Policy Aims

Scottish Ministers want to make Scotland the best place in the world for a child to grow up. Early interventions and preventative work will target the earliest years of a child's life, to build strong foundations and reduce the number of adverse childhood experiences that we know have lasting impacts on our children and shape their lives as adults [7] .

The BSG is one of the actions in Every Child Every Chance, The Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan [8] which summarises the actions the Scottish Government will take towards the ambitious targets set out in the Child Poverty (Scotland) Act 2017 [9] .

The BSG is one of a range of measures aimed at giving children the best start in life and, once fully implemented, will pay qualifying families £600 at around the time of the birth of the first child and £300 on the birth of every subsequent child. An additional payment of £300 is payable in the case of a multiple birth. Qualifying families will also receive £250 around the time the child starts nursery and a further £250 when they start primary school although there is no requirement to enrol/attend nursery or school to qualify for a payment.

The BSG payments are:

  • Pregnancy and baby payment – will help with expenses in pregnancy or of having a new child, for example a pram or additional heating. This lessens the financial burden on lower income families when they are expecting a child.
  • Early learning payment – will help with costs during nursery and early learning years to support child development, for example travel costs, changes of clothes for messy play, trips out and toys for home learning.
  • School age payment – helps with the costs of preparing for school, for example a school bag, educational toys, after school activities such as swimming or football, or helping with the cost of school milk or school trips.

Administration of BSG will be integrated with BSF ( UK Healthy Start Vouchers ( HSV)) to reduce effort for the applicant and administration for Social Security Scotland. This support is part of fulfilling the Scottish Government's National Outcomes and will specifically contribute towards the following Outcomes:

  • We tackle poverty by sharing opportunities, wealth and power more equally
  • We grow up loved, safe and respected so that we realise our full potential
  • We are well educated, skilled and able to contribute to society

Building on the Social Security (Scotland) Act's framework of a benefit that is founded on dignity and respect at its heart, Scottish Ministers are committed to supporting people to access their full entitlement.

BSG represents a significant additional investment by the Scottish Government in comparison to current SSMG provision. As a result of increasing the payment amount
for a first child, making additional payments for second and subsequent children, and widening the eligibility criteria, lower income families are expected to benefit from reduced incidence of material deprivation and accumulated debt. Around 5,000 children per annum are currently supported by SSMG.

Under proposed eligibility, BSG has the potential to reach (where there is a birth/child at the appropriate age of payments):

  • Almost 90% of families in the bottom 3 income deciles, both in and out of work
  • 97% of workless households
  • More than 80% of households with no full time work
    (ie one or more working part time)
  • Potentially more than 90% of lone parent households
  • More than half of families with 3 or more children.

The Scottish Fiscal Commission ( SFC) is responsible for producing independent forecasts of devolved social security expenditure. For BSG Pregnancy and Baby payment, the SFC will publish forecasts alongside the laying of the BSG regulations.

Based on assumptions from the SFC model, in the first full year of running 2018-19, we estimate that there will be 12,500 BSG Pregnancy and Baby payments with a total cost of £5.5m. Once the Early Learning and School payments are added, we estimate that the total number of payments annually will be in the region of 39,000 at a cost of £12.1m, based on 2019-20 figures.


Email: Alison Melville 

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