Summary of aims and expected outcomes of strategy, proposal, programme or policy
The Scotland Act 2016 devolved new social security powers to Scotland. One of the powers which was devolved allows for an equivalent of the Sure Start Maternity Grant (SSMG) to be provided. Scottish Ministers used this power to create a form of assistance referred to as Early Years Assistance in the Social Security (Scotland) Act 2018. This will be delivered in the form of a new benefit called the Best Start Grant (BSG).
The BSG aims to support families on low incomes, both in and out of work, with the additional costs associated with having a child in their early years. It aims to contribute to tackling child poverty in particular to alleviate material deprivation, tackle inequality, contribute to closing the educational attainment gap and give children the best possible start in life. It will do this by giving eligible families additional money when their children make transitions in the early years, adding to the family budget and avoiding the need for borrowing. This will reduce financial pressure on the household which can have such negative impacts on children's outcomes for example as a result of the impact on relationships, maternal mental health and parenting.
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.
Introducing the BSG is one of the actions of the Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan which summarises the actions the Scottish Government will take towards the ambitious targets set out in the Child Poverty (Scotland) Act 2017. It will contribute to fulfilling the Scottish Government's National Outcomes:
- We tackle poverty by sharing opportunities, wealth and power more equally;
- We are well-educated, skilled and able to contribute to society;
- We are healthy and active.
Email: Alison Melville