Best Start Grant, Best Start Foods and the Baby Box
Last updated: 06/04/2023
Best Start Grant
The Scottish Government has introduced a grant to help with the costs of a new baby called the Best Start Grant. This has replaced the Sure Start Maternity Grant which is no longer available in Scotland.
The Best Start Grant includes 3 different payments:
- Best Start Pregnancy and Baby Payment – to help with the costs of pregnancy and having a new baby. You will receive £707.25 from your 25th week of pregnancy to 6 months after the birth of your first child and £353.65 on the birth of any following children. The higher amount may also be given for another baby born:
- when the mother has had to leave her home due to domestic abuse,
- after the parent/carer has taken on kinship care of child who was over 12 months old when they started caring for them,
- to someone granted refugee status, humanitarian protection or leave under the Afghanistan or Ukraine resettlement schemes who had a child before they arrived in the UK.
- Best Start Early Learning Payment – a payment of £294.70 to help with the costs of early learning. It is paid when your child is between 2 years and 3 years 6 months old. Your child does not need to be in nursery to get it. If you did not get the Pregnancy and Baby Payment you can still apply for this part.
- Best Start School Age Payment – a further payment of £294.70 to help with the additional costs when your child is school age. Your child does not need to start school to get this.
The money will be paid into your bank account.
Who can get it?
You can get the Best Start Grant if you receive any of the following benefits:
- Universal Credit
- Income Support
- Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
- Pension Credit
- Housing Benefit
- Child Tax Credit
- Working Tax Credit
If you are under 18 you do not need to be getting any benefits to get the Best Start Grant.
If you’re 18 or 19 and someone else is claiming Child Benefit, Child Tax Credit or Universal Credit for you, you can get the Best Start Grant regardless of your income.
If you have adopted a baby, or have started looking after a baby as a kinship carer, you can apply for the grant. You will have until the end of the day before the child’s first birthday to apply.
If you have twins, or a multiple birth, you’ll get £707.25 per child if you have no other children living with you. If you have other children living with you, you’ll get £353.65 per baby in a multiple birth, plus one extra payment of £353.65.
Best Start Foods
Best Start Foods is a voucher scheme for children and pregnant women. Vouchers, worth £19.80 or £39.60 are added onto a prepaid digital smartcard every 4 weeks. They can be used for formula milk, cow’s milk, fresh and frozen fruit and vegetables at participating shops.
If you get vouchers you automatically qualify for free vitamins available from health centres.
Vouchers are awarded to each of the following groups:
- £19.80 every 4 weeks if you are under 18 years of age and at least 10 weeks pregnant whether or not you receive any benefits
- £19.80 every 4 weeks if you are over 18 years of age, at least 10 weeks pregnant and receive a qualifying benefit
- £39.60 every 4 weeks if you have a baby under one year old and receive a qualifying benefit (Note: The year starts from the expected date of delivery and not the date of birth, so vouchers may be received for more or less than one year)
- £19.80 every 4 weeks if you have a child who is over 1 and under 4 years old and you get a qualifying benefit.
You can get vouchers if you are receiving one of the following qualifying benefits:
- Income Support
- income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- income-related Employment and Support Allowance
- Child Tax Credit, where income is below £18,725 and no Working Tax Credit is received
- Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit where income is below £7,920
- Universal Credit, with earnings of £722 or below after tax and National Insurance
- Housing benefit where your income is less than £328 a week.
You may also get vouchers if you are 18 or 19, not getting a qualifying benefit, but your parents gets Child Benefit, Child Tax Credit or Universal Credit for you.
How to apply for Best Start Grant and Best Start Foods
When to apply
- Best Start Foods You can apply as soon as you know you are pregnant up until your child turns 3 years old.
- Best Start Pregnancy and Baby Payment You can apply from the end of your 24th week of pregnancy until the day your baby is 6 months old. You can apply earlier than the 24th week of pregnancy if your baby is born before this date.
- Best Start Early Learning Payment If you are getting Scottish Child Payment this payment will be made automatically into your bank account so you do not need to apply. If you are not getting Scottish Child Payment you will need to apply. You can apply when your child is between 2 years and 3 years 6 months old.
- Best Start School Age Payment If you are getting Scottish Child Payment this payment will be made automatically into your bank account so you do not need to apply. The automatic payment will be made in the year that your child should start school even if you have chosen to defer them starting to the following year. If you are not getting Scottish Child Payment you will need to apply. You can apply in the year that your child is old enough to start primary school, even if you are deferring the start date or you are home schooling your child.
Applications can be made online, by phone or on a paper form.
All new-born babies in Scotland will be given a free Baby Box containing useful items including:
- clothes, from new-born up to 6 months
- a digital ear thermometer
- a bath towel
- a changing mat
The box has a mattress, mattress protector and a fitted sheet, and can be used for your baby to sleep in. Your midwife will help you register for it at your 18 -20 or 28 week antenatal appointment. You don’t need to do anything else. Your baby box will be delivered to your home between weeks 28 to 32 of your pregnancy.
Health benefits for you
Pregnant women are entitled to dental costs while pregnant and for 12 months after their baby is born. You will also get help paying for glasses and with travel costs to and from hospital. Prescriptions are free in Scotland.