Early years assistance: consultation on the Best Start Grant regulations

This consultation asks questions on whether the draft Best Start Grant regulations will help to improve children’s wellbeing and life chances.

Ministerial Foreword

Jeane Freeman MSP Minister for Social Security

The Social Security (Scotland) Bill completed Stage 2 of the Parliamentary process on 1 March 2018, a further point of progress to delivery of Scottish Social Security. This consultation on draft regulations for the Best Start Grant ( BSG), a form of Early Years Assistance provided for in the Bill, is the first in a series of consultations that will take your views on the new benefits.

On 28 September 2017 we published a set of illustrative regulations [1] for the BSG to show how we intend to use our powers under the Social Security Bill. The feedback we received has been used to develop the consultation questions and the draft regulations we are now consulting on. This consultation is the next step in a journey of consultation and engagement, with potential recipients, the people who support them and experts in the field. I thank the BSG Reference Group for working with us so constructively during this process.

This consultation will inform our final policy, and ensure that robust systems can be developed, building towards the delivery of the BSG as part of the first wave of new Scottish benefits which will be in place by Summer 2019.

The BSG will help support families who receive certain benefits, both in and out of work, who are feeling the impact of UK Government's welfare reform. The provision for the first child will increase from £500 under the UK Sure Start Maternity Grant ( SSMG) up to a total of £1,100, over three payments. Subsequent children, who receive nothing from the UK Government, will receive a total of £800 under the BSG.

The assistance will help parents and people who have become responsible for a child buy, for example, the equipment they need for a baby and to support the child's transition to early learning and childcare and then primary school. The extra money will help reduce the financial pressures on the household, which can have negative effects on maternal health, mental health, parenting skills and family relationships.

I am confident of the positive effect that the BSG will have on children and families. We have built the regulations for the benefit to link with our wider policy on health and education in early years, drawing on the wealth of evidence that we have in Scotland. We now need your views to inform final decisions and to check that the detail of what we are proposing is right before we progress to making the regulations. I encourage you to respond to the consultation, and thank you in advance for taking the time to give us your views.

Jeane Freeman MSP
Minister for Social Security


Email: Barry.Pattison@gov.scot

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