Early Years Assistance: illustrative regulations

This document will give an idea of how we intend to use the powers in the Social Security Bill to take forward the Best Start Grant (Early Years Assistance).

Part 2 - Assistance to be Given

Illustrative regulations:

Value of grant

4. The value of a maternity and new-baby grant is--

(a) the amount specified in paragraph 5, and

(b) any amount that falls to be added to that by way of a multiple-pregnancy supplement (see paragraph 6).

The basic amount

5.--(1) The amount referred to in paragraph 4(a) is-

(a) £600 if sub-paragraph (2) applies in relation to the child in respect of whom the grant is to be given, or

(b) £300 if it does not.

(2) This sub-paragraph applies in relation to the child (subject to sub-paragraph (3)) if, on the day the application for the grant is made--

(a) there is no-one under 16 years of age living in the same household as the individual to whom the grant is to be given; or

(b) if there is, that person is (or all of those persons are) one of the following--

(i) the child;

(ii) a sibling of the child born as a result of the same pregnancy that resulted in the child's birth;

(iii) a parent of the child.

(3) Where more than one child is born, or is to be born, as a result of the same pregnancy--

(a) sub-paragraph (2) applies in relation to only one of the children; and

(b) it is for the Scottish Ministers to decide which.

Value of Grant

For the maternity and new child payment, the value will be £600 to a first child and £300 to second and subsequent children

Second and subsequent children

In order to determine whether a child is a first or a subsequent child in a family, we propose the same approach as for the SSMG. That is, where there is a child in the family of 16 or under, any other child born in to the family will be treated as a subsequent child. Subsequent children will be paid a £300 birth payment rather than £600. Where the parent is themselves a child, they are excluded from this rule e.g. where a 15 year old is living with her mother and becomes pregnant, she would be entitled to a £600 payment.

There will be no upper limit on the number of children who can receive a BSG in any one family.

Illustrative regulations:

Multiple pregnancy supplement

6.--(1) A supplement of £300 is to be added to the value of a maternity and new-baby grant in respect of a child born, or to be born, as a result of a multiple pregnancy.

(2) But sub-paragraph (1) is subject to sub-paragraphs (3) and (4).

(3) The supplement is to be added to the grant in respect of only one of the children born, or to be born, as a result of the pregnancy, and it is for the Scottish Ministers to decide which child's grant to supplement.

(4) Sub-paragraph (1) does not apply if the individual to whom the grant is to be given--

(a) has not applied for a maternity and new-baby grant in respect of all of the children born, or to be born, as a result of the pregnancy; or

(b) is not eligible for a maternity and new-baby grant in respect of any of those children.

Multiple Pregnancy Supplement

For multiple births, the normal BSG award is made and, in addition, there is a multi-birth supplement to recognise the additional costs of a multiple birth. This table illustrates the effect:

No. of children in multiple birth

BSG Payment

BSG Multi Birth Supplement



£600 (first birth)

£300 (second birth)




£600 (first birth)

£300 (second birth)

£300 (third birth)



2 but where there is already a child within the family

£300 (second birth)

£300 (third birth)



Form in which the Grant is Given

Illustrative regulations:

Form in which grant is given

7.--(1) A maternity and new-baby grant is to be given as money (subject to sub-paragraph (2)).

(2) If--

(a) the Scottish Ministers offer to give an individual some or all of the value of a maternity and new-baby grant in a form other than money; and

(b) the individual accepts the offer,

the grant is to be given in the form offered.

We anticipate that the majority of payments will be made in the form of a payment in to a bank or credit union account. The intention is that no other form of payment will be imposed on an applicant without their consent but the applicant cannot choose an alternative to cash unless it is offered.

Appointees There are likely to be some situations where the Agency will want to make an appointee to act on behalf of an applicant, for example where the applicant is under the age of 16 or does not have capacity to act on their own behalf. We are looking at how this can be achieved.

Schedules 2 and 3

Nursery and Early Learning Grant and School Age Grant

Schedules 2 and 3 follow the same pattern as the first schedule but with the relevant dates and amounts for the payments. For the Nursery and Early Learning Payment, the payment - £250 and the application window is the day of the child's second birthday to 6 months after its third birthday. The long nursery and early learning window is to capture the two common ages for starting nursery, depending on whether parents qualify for a funded nursery place when the child is 2 or 3. Where a child is not taking up a place at nursery, it allows a parent to take up the payment at a point relevant to their child's development and any other childcare arrangements.

For the School Age Payment, the payment is £250 and the application window is the 1 st of June in the year that the child would normally start school (start of Autumn term) until the end of February in the year following the date of normally starting school.

There is no requirement to take up a place at nursery or school to qualify for the payments. While it will not suit every case, we do not propose to vary the dates for the school payment where a parent decides to defer the school start date, in order to avoid further complexity.

Cross Cutting Policy Areas


The policy intent for re-determinations is to provide a right for individuals to challenge a determination, should they disagree with it. The re-determination process will see the Agency put aside the original determination and a different officer will go through the entire process of making a new determination rather than just examining whether the original decision was right or not. The individual will be able to ask for a re-determination without having to supply further evidence, but the Agency will take into consideration any new evidence provided. If the individual is still dissatisfied with the re-determination outcome, they are able to take their claim to the First-tier Tribunal.

The re-determinations approach is to focus on getting the decision right, have clearly published procedures and timescales for challenging decisions with meaningful redress as well as having processes in place for the Agency to put things right quickly where there has been an error. However, the detailed service design and modelling work to co-design the new processes for challenging decisions; working with Experience Panels, users and stakeholders is still to be undertaken. Once this has been done, we will be in a position to share relevant timescales for requesting and processing re-determinations as set out in Section 24 of the Bill.

Deductions, Fraud and Overpayments

Policy on deductions, overpayment and fraud for BSG will follow wider policy for the Social Security Agency. We are considering whether there are any specific requirements in relation to BSG.

We are taking a considered approach to overpayment recovery. This approach will ensure the individual's rights are respected throughout the process, while also ensuring the proper stewardship of public funds by making certain that the right payments are made at the right time to the right people. This will be done by minimising errors and detecting and correcting any errors that do occur quickly. However, it is reasonable to anticipate some errors will be made by both the Agency and individuals in receipt of assistance.

Where overpayments are made as a result of agency error, they will not be pursued unless under exceptional circumstances, such as a very large and obvious overpayment. Also, before overpayment recovery is pursued, officials must have regard to the individual's financial circumstances, but they will also take account of other circumstances they consider relevant. The key principles guiding recovery decisions will be that no-one is placed into undue hardship and that people should at all times be treated with dignity and respect. We are currently considering safeguards, such as the concept of a 'minimum income floor', which would determine whether Ministers would seek recovery of an overpayment.

We have been clear that a zero-tolerance approach to social security fraud will be taken. Equally important, however, is that individuals will be treated with dignity and respect. Therefore, while suspicions of fraud will be treated sensitively under a presumption of innocence, action should be taken when fraud has actually occurred.

Impact Assessments

fRelevant impact assessments are being deveoped for the BSG and will be consulted on alongside draft regulations early next year.

The BSG is likely to have a significant positive impact on children and on equalities groups because of the increase in value of the maternity payment and the introduction of the two additional £250 payments. In combination with action to increase take up, for example extending application windows, simplifying eligibility criteria and integrating administration with HSV. This could mean that nearly 60,000 more Scottish children benefit each year from a BSG payment than do from the SSMG.

BSG will help parents and people who have become responsible for a child to buy, for example, the equipment they need and to support their child's transition to early learning and childcare and school. This in turn will help decrease the financial pressures on the household, which can have negative effects on maternal health, mental health, parenting skills and family relationships, as well as have potential to decrease material deprivation.

The proposed eligiblity for BSG is effective in reaching groups who share equalities characteristics. The qualifying benefits capture:

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

In addition to ensure that vulnerable children are supported, the policy proposal:

  • introduces an exception to the requirement to be on a qualifying benefit for young parents under the age of 18, potentially removing a barrier to application for young people who are in need of support.
  • has not placed a limit on the number of children who can qualify in any one family. Larger families have been harder hit by welfare reforms and are more likely to be in poverty. Black and ethnic minority families are more likely to have larger families.
  • Includes payments to qualifying kinship carers and allows for a second payment for the same life event if the child is adopted of moves to live with a kinship carer within an application window.

We are continuing to look at how we can improve the reach of the BSG to vulnerable children for example the children of young care leavers and of women prisoners, where they are being cared for by someone else in their mother's absence. Good communication, building on third sector networks will be particularly important to reach groups who are not always in touch with mainstream services.

Financial Effects and Implementation

Current estimates are that, in steady state, around 63,000 BSG payments will be made each year, benefiting around 50,000 families at a cost of around £20m.

The transfer of the social security powers will require the implementation of new infrastructure and systems to support their delivery. Administrative costs form part of wider financial planning for the new Agency. To ensure a safe and secure transition, the Scottish Government will implement the various benefits on a phased basis, with BSG the first to be delivered, by Summer 2019.

Scottish Government
Social Security Directorate
28 September 2017



Telephone: Central Enquiries Unit 0300 244 4000

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