Although Best Start Grant is fully rolled-out, its impacts can only be fully assessed after at least 5 years from the roll-out by which time eligible families will have had a chance to receive multiple payments for the same child. We intend to commission a further evaluation to report in 2025 on these families' experiences. This evaluation only considers the impact of the first payments and relied predominantly on qualitative data from commissioned research and some official statistics. Other data may be available in time for the full evaluation in the future including data from established surveys (e.g. Scottish Household Survey, Family Resources Survey), the Social Security Scotland Satisfaction Survey, and additional Management Information. This may enable evaluating impacts of BSG on the longer-term policy outcomes and impacts on wider SG objectives.
The qualitative research suggested that the BSG was viewed very positively by the respondents. The consensus was that the BSG application process was straightforward, the use of the grant led to positive outcomes for child and parent alike, it was not stigmatising to receive the payment and the BSG should be promoted in order that all eligible individuals apply for it.
Importantly, the BSG was perceived as easing financial strain on low income families at key transitional stages for their children, and prevented some families from going into debt. It increased their confidence as parents and carers. As a result of the very positive reception for the BSG, any proposed modifications were relatively minor. This suggests that the BSG is already operating smoothly and successfully across Scotland, and only relatively minor changes should be considered in the near future.
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