Take-up rates of Scottish benefits: November 2023

This publication contains our latest estimates of take-up of Scottish benefits delivered by Social Security Scotland. An 'Easy Read' version of this publication is available in the Supporting Documents section.

This document is part of a collection

Analysis of Take-Up Rate Estimates


All the figures presented in this publication are estimates and there is more uncertainty for benefits with lower numbers of recipients as there is a higher degree of uncertainty within the eligibility calculations. Therefore fluctuations in estimated take-up rates year to year should be expected.

Benefit take up rates are likely to be influenced by levels of awareness of the benefit, whether the benefit is a regular or one-off payment, the value of the benefit, and the characteristics of recipients (e.g. age profile etc.).

The estimated take-up rates for Scottish Child Payment, Best Start Grant and Best Start Foods – the ‘Five Family Payments’ – are generally higher than the other Scottish benefits.

There are a number of possible reasons for this. For example, eligible families can make a combined application for all of the five family payments resulting in a simplified process. There are also more opportunities to reach and inform eligible families about the Five Family Payments through the public services they already access as part of supporting their children to grow, learn and develop. This helps to spread awareness through word of mouth, complementing the wider marketing efforts of Social Security Scotland.

Scottish Child Payment


The estimated take-up rate of Scottish Child Payment for children aged under 6 is 95% for 2022-23. This is a substantial increase from last year’s estimate of 87% for 2021-22 and suggests the vast majority of eligible families with children aged under 6 are receiving the payment.

Eligibility for Scottish Child Payment was extended in November 2022 from eligible children aged under 6 to under 16 therefore a full financial year take-up rate estimate for children aged 6 to 15 is not yet possible. However, the estimated take-up rate of children aged 6 to 15 at the end of the financial year in March 2023 is 77%.

Similarly, a full financial year take-up rate estimate for all children aged under 16 is not yet possible, however, the estimated take-up rate of all children aged under 16 at the end of the financial year in March 2023 is 83%.

Both of these snapshot figures reflect lower take-up rates for older children than younger children. However, they are not directly comparable as they represent a point after less than 6 months of benefit delivery, compared to the more established delivery to younger children that began in February 2021.

These estimates for older children have also increased since the eligibility extension began and are expected to continue to increase over time, as awareness of eligibility increases, as observed with take-up rates for younger children. Younger children may be expected to continue to have higher take-up rates than older children due to a number of reasons, including associated education and health settings having more involvement in benefit awareness than for older children. However, the Scottish Fiscal Commission expect some gradual convergence of those take-up rates over time.

This publication includes estimated take-up rates for Scottish Child Payment at the local authority level for the first time, again as a snapshot for all children aged under 16 at the end of the financial year in March 2023. These estimates range from 75% to 90% and indicate a positive relationship between take-up of Scottish Child Payment and deprivation, as measured by Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation ranking, and to a lesser extent a negative relationship between take-up and rurality, as measured by urban rural classifications. Take-up rates tend to be higher in more deprived and also more urban local authorities. See pages 12-16 for all estimates.

What are we doing?

Ahead of the extension of Scottish Child Payment to eligible children under 16, Social Security Scotland updated marketing materials to reflect the payment was now available to older children and a targeted marketing campaign was launched to reach families with older children. It was recognised these families were less likely to be aware of Scottish Child Payment because the Five Family Payments had previously been available to younger children only. This included a national TV campaign and digital, social and radio advertising. Information was also sent to primary and secondary schools encouraging them to share information on their channels as user research indicated families expect to receive this kind information from schools.

Social Security Scotland will continue to target communication, marketing and wider stakeholder engagement activity to raise awareness that children over six are now eligible for Scottish Child Payment.

This is the first time estimates of take-up rates for Scottish Child Payment by local authority have been published. Social Security Scotland is committed to working collaboratively with local authorities to ensure their services are available to people across a variety of channels and in locations that are accessible to them. The Local Delivery service includes a team of specially trained client advisers who support people to apply in every local authority area in Scotland. People can get support at home, via phone or video call, or in a community location convenient to them. Research shows people want to access support in places and services they are already interacting with, and appointments with the Local Delivery service are available in 197 outreach venues across Scotland that are co-located with organisations already supporting the local community.

Best Start Grant


The estimated take-up rate for Best Start Grant Pregnancy and Baby Payment in 2021-22 is 83%. This is very similar to last year’s estimate of 84% for 2020-21 and the estimate of 83% for 2019-20. Given that applications can be made between a 9 month window, 2021-22 is the latest full year an estimate can be produced for, to ensure all clients counted as eligible have been given their full window to apply. Next year’s publication will cover 2022-23.

The estimated take-up rate for Best Start Grant Early Learning Payment in 2020-21 is 80%, a decline from last year’s estimate of 85% for 2019-20. This difference may be partly explained by particularly high take-up at the beginning of delivery, in May 2019, where over 10,000 payments were made to clients in one month alone. Automation of payments to clients already receiving Scottish Child Payment began in November 2022, so take-up rates are likely to increase for 2022-23 onwards. However, as above, due to the 18 month application window for Early Learning Payment, 2020-21 is the latest full year an estimate can be produced for. Next year’s publication will cover 2021-22.

The estimated take-up rate for Best Start Grant School Age Payment in 2022-23 is 97%, a substantial increase from last year’s estimate of 77% for 2021-22. This broadly reflects the impact of the introduction of automated payments in November 2022 and indicates the vast majority of clients eligible for the payment are now receiving it.

What are we doing?

The introduction of automation for both Early Learning Payment and School Age Payment means eligible children will automatically receive the payments if they are in receipt of Scottish Child Payment without the need to apply. Alongside automation, Social Security Scotland continues to promote Best Start Grant as part of the wider Five Family Payments campaign.

Best Start Foods


The estimated take-up for Best Start Foods for 2022-23 is 92%. This indicates take-up remains high for this benefit and is stable over the past year.

The estimated take-up rate for 2020-21 and 2021-22 have been revised since last year’s publication due to methodological improvements and updated data becoming available. The estimate for 2020-21 has been revised to 71% (from 74%), and the estimate for 2021-22 has been revised to 92% (from 88%). Eligibility for Best Start Foods is more difficult to estimate than the other Five Family Payments due to the income limit currently in place, due to be removed in February 2024.

What are we doing?

In partnership with the Scottish Grocers’ Federation (SGF) Healthy Living Programme, Social Security Scotland has carried out a nationwide advertising campaign that promoted Best Start Foods in more than 2200 local convenience stores across Scotland. This partnership builds on collaboration with larger supermarkets to raise awareness of Best Start Foods and encourage people to apply for and use the card to buy healthy food. This has been complemented by marketing activity particularly focused on explaining how to use the pre-paid card.

Young Carer Grant


The estimated take-up rate for Young Carer Grant in 2022-23 is 75%, a slight increase from last year’s estimate of 73% for 2021-22 and a year on year increase in estimated take-up rates since 2020-21. However, relatively small differences in estimated take-up rates over time should be treated with caution. There is a particular difficulty in accurately estimating the size of the eligible population for Young Carer Grant due to the small size of the eligible population and difficulties in collecting information about caring in survey data.

What are we doing?

Social Security Scotland continues to promote Young Carer Grant on channels that research shows young people engage with. Marketing activity is increased at key campaign moments throughout the year, such as Young Carer Action Day, to help raise awareness of the payment. The Local Delivery service works in partnership with carers centres in each local authority area to promote awareness of Young Carer Grant to eligible young carers.

Job Start Payment


The estimated take-up rate for Job Start Payment in 2022-23 is 15%, substantially lower than last year’s estimate of 29% for 2021-22 and the lowest take-up rate of any Scottish benefit.

According to the latest published statistics, there were 660 authorised applications for Job Start Payment in 2022-23 from 2,160 total applications. This demonstrates a large number of people eligible for the payment are not applying for it and a large number of people who do apply are deemed not eligible.

What are we doing?

The Scottish Government is acting on findings of the Job Start Payment evaluation that showed low levels of awareness and high application denial rates could be impacting take-up rates. Earlier this year Social Security Scotland implemented a number of operational and guidance changes to address high application denial rates. This included redirecting people who don’t meet eligibility criteria to call Social Security Scotland, extending the application window from within 3 months of a job offer to 6, disregarding income from a work trial, and simplifying evidence requirements for the job offer.

Social Security Scotland are also working to increase awareness of Job Start Payment among eligible young people, employers and organisations who support young people looking for work. This includes promoting the payment via national and local media and marketing campaigns during 2022-23, and promoting Job Start Payment throughout 2023-24, including working with DWP Youth Work Coaches and Skills Development Scotland.

Funeral Support Payment


The estimated take-up rate for Funeral Support Payment in 2022-23 is 61%, lower than last year’s estimate of 66% for 2021-22 but higher than the estimate of 49% for 2020-21. There is a higher degree of uncertainty in the estimate of eligibility for Funeral Support Payment than other benefits because of the need to identify the likelihood of the person responsible for the funeral being eligible within the methodology. For that reason it is reasonable to expect variation in take-up rates year to year. Another potential reason why take-up of Funeral Support Payment is lower than other benefits is that people may make provision to cover funeral costs themselves, for example with money left in the deceased person's estate, and therefore choose not to claim the benefit. Or some people may in fact be ineligible due to the level of funds in the estate but are still included in the eligible population when calculating estimated take-up.

What are we doing?

One finding from the Funeral Support Payment evaluation showed although the payment was viewed positively by applicants, the awareness of the payment could be improved. Social Security Scotland promote the payment throughout the year, and increase communication activity when the death rate is higher and more people are expected to need financial help to support funeral costs. For example, a marketing campaign across print, digital and radio channels ran in February and March 2023. Social Security Scotland also engage with key stakeholders, such as registrars, to help raise awareness among organisations supporting eligible people who might need help to pay for funeral costs.

Future Analysis Developments

This publication includes snapshot estimates of take-up rates for Scottish Child Payment following its extension to eligible children aged under 16 and also provides snapshot estimates of take-up rates for Scottish Child Payment by local authority.

Scottish Government analysts continue to work on developing methodologies to estimate take-up rates for the other Scottish benefits not yet reported on (e.g. disability and carer benefits), which were still in the process of being launched or migrated for the most recent financial year (2022-23). It is not possible to robustly estimate the number of recipients of benefits when case transfer is incomplete as the caseload is split between Social Security Scotland and the Department for Work and Pensions. A further update will be provided in next year’s publication when further coverage (e.g. Child Disability Payment) of take-up rates should be possible (covering 2022-23) and further work has been undertaken to estimate eligibility for disability benefits.

Estimates of take-up have not been included for the following benefits:

Child Winter Heating Payment is paid automatically to children and young people who receive Child Disability Payment, Adult Disability Payment, Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payment at a certain rate. Similarly, Winter Heating Payment is paid automatically to people on low-income qualifying benefits, and Carer’s Allowance Supplement is paid automatically to people who receive Carer’s Allowance.


Email: ceu@gov.scot

Back to top