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.

Section 1 - About the Consultation

What are we consulting about?

5. This consultation asks questions on whether the draft BSG regulations, at Annex A, will have the desired effect and on some specific points, for example on establishing responsibilty for the child, on which we would like to gather wider views to ensure we have identified the best solution. We do not envisage that the consultation will result in major changes to the framework of three payments or eligibility for BSG and any change that has an impact on financial planning would need careful consideration.

6. The application process for the payments which will replace Healthy Start Vouchers will be linked with BSG to make it easier for people who qualify for both to apply, supporting increase in take up. However, where we refer to BSG in the Consultation, we mean only the three cash payments: the maternity and new baby, nursery and early learning, and school-age grants. A separate consultation on 'Welfare Foods - a consultation on meeting the needs of children and families in Scotland', including questions on Healthy Start Vouchers, will be undertaken in parallel and can be found at: https://consult.gov.scot/.

Who do we want to hear from?

7. We are keen to gather the views of people with a working knowledge of social security and experience of working with regulations, for example welfare rights officers and local authorities. As the Scottish Commission on Social Security, which will be set up to scrutinise future regulations, will not be in place in time to participate in the consultation process, we plan to engage experts in social security legislation to provide effective scrutiny of the draft regulations.

8. In order to make this consultation as accessible as possible for people who might be affected by the changes, we are offering alternative ways of engaging for past, current and potential applicants for maternity grants. We think that questions 2 and 3 (in Section 4) will be particularly relevant to the people who will apply for BSG. To respond to the consultation, people will be able to choose between interviews (for example face-to-face or over the phone), group sessions, and the opportunity to provide written feedback in the form of a questionnaire. This will provide people with the opportunity to speak directly to researchers about their experiences and views on topics covered in the wider consultation.

9. We are proactively inviting Social Security Experience Panel members to participate in research on this topic, as well as working with a range of parenting and kinship care groups, and other relevant agencies to hear about their experience and views on key issues covered in this consultation. If you would like to tell us about your experiences and views, please contact socialsecurityexperience@gov.scot or:

Freephone: 0800 029 4974 (includes language line translation)
Text: Prefix 18001
SMS: 07467 447375
British Sign Language ( BSL) users can contact us via http://contactscotland-bsl.org.

10. Please let us know about any additional support needs that you have in order to allow you to take part.

Who might be affected by the regulations?

11. Pre-school children and their families who are on the qualifying benefits listed in the regulations and parents under 18 who are not on qualifying benefits will be affected. We are taking views directly from children via the Children's Parliament.

12. Under proposed eligibility, BSG will reach:

  • Almost 90% of people in the bottom three income deciles, both in and out of work
  • 97% of 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

13. Further details of who may be affected by the regulations can be found in the summary of draft Impact Assessments at section 7. We are consulting on these and welcome your views.

How will the regulations be taken forward?

14. The responses to the consultation will be analysed and, taking these into account, final policy decisions will be made. The regulations will then be revised as needed and laid in draft for approval by the Scottish Parliament. They will then need to complete the parliamentary process before payment of BSG can take place.

15. Whilst the Bill is progressing, work is also underway on the design of the new Scottish Social Security Agency. This will be headquartered in Dundee but will have a further site of similar size in Glasgow. The aim is to recruit a diverse workforce that represents our society and the people who will use our service.

16. The BSG service design team have started to design the business processes which will allow citizens to access and receive the BSG. This includes the application process. We are using an 'Agile' approach to service design, which means that we continually test evolving designs with citizens to make the application process as user-friendly as possible.

What comments are requested and by when?

17. We are inviting responses to this consultation paper by 15th June 2018. To submit your response online please visit: https://consult.gov.scot/socialsecurity/best-start-grant If you would prefer, you can email your response to bsgconsultation@gov.scot or send to:

BSG Consultation
Best Start Grant Team
Social Security Policy
Victoria Quay

Comments and Concerns

18. If you have any comments about how this consultation exercise has been conducted please send them to: bsgconsultation@gov.scot


Best Start Grant Team
Social Security Policy
Victoria Quay


Email: Barry.Pattison@gov.scot

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