Best Start Grant in 2022: eligibility and how to apply

8 December 2022 by Robin - 8 minutes of reading time


What is Best Start Grant? Am I eligible if pregnant or taking care of a young child? How do I apply? You could be eligible and receive payments for your pregnancy, your or your child’s health. This Your Benefits article will walk you through everything you need to know about Best Start Grant, and how you may receive it if eligible.

What is Best Start Grant?

Best Start Grant and Best Start Foods are benefits that you may receive from being pregnant or looking after a child and living in Scotland. Both these benefits are intended to help someone with the costs that both these conditions may impose.

Best Start Grant consists of 3 one-time payments. They are Pregnancy and Baby Payment, Early Learning Payment and School Age Payment.

Best Start Foods is slightly different. It consists of a prepaid card that can be used to buy healthy foods like milk or fruit in shops or online. How much you receive may depend on how far along you are in your pregnancy, or how old your child is. More details in the table below.

You apply for both these benefits with the same form. This is to maximize how much aid you are able to receive without having to make multiple applications. However, you will receive a separate letter for each benefit. Additionally, if you are eligible for one benefit now but not another, you will need to fill a new form to apply in the future.

If you live in England, Wales or Northern Ireland, other benefits may be available to you. If you do not have access to public funds because of your immigration status, you may still be eligible.

Best Start Grant eligibility

You may apply for Best Start Grant and Best Start Foods if all of the following apply to your situation:

Am I eligible for Best Start Grant and Best Start Foods?

  • You reside in Scotland;
  • Your partner or yourself already receive certain benefits or tax credits (more details below);
  • Note that you do not need to already be receiving benefits if you are under the age of 18;
  • Either you or your partner are pregnant or are looking after a baby or child;
  • The baby or child needs to be under 3 years old.

If you are a parent over the age of 18, your working conditions will not affect your eligibility. However, you will have to be receiving one of the following benefits:

You will not be eligible for either Best Start Grant or Best Start Credit if you only receive Child Benefit. Additionally, you must be receiving one or more of the benefits above at the time of your application. However, if you have applied for but have not received any of these benefits, you might still be eligible

Although your income will not impact your eligibility for Best Start Grant, some Best Start Foods benefits do have an income limit.

What am I eligible for at the time of my application?

How far along you are in your pregnancy or the age of your baby will affect the benefits you are eligible for.

Best Start Grant Payments eligibility in 2022
Period of application What will I be eligible for?
Either as soon as you know you are pregnant, or before your child turns 3 years old Best Start Foods
Between the 24th week of your pregnancy and the day your child turns 6 months old. If you are looking after a child you have not given birth to, before the child’s first birthday Best Start Grant: Pregnancy and Baby Payment
While your child is between 2 years old and 3 years and 6 months old Best Start Grant: Early Learning Payment
In the year that your child is first old enough to start school.  Best Start Grant: School Age Payment

How do I apply for Best Start Grant and Best Start Food? As said before, you may receive multiple benefits at one time. For example, if you apply at the 30th week of your pregnancy, you may be eligible for both Best Start Foods and Best Start Grant: Pregnancy and Baby Payment. You may also be eligible for other benefits later on, but you will need to send an application again.

What do I need for my Best Start Grant application?

In order to apply for Best Start Grant and Best Start Foods, you will need the following information:

  • Your name, date of birth and address;
  • The name and date of birth of your partner (if you have one);
  • The details of any children you are responsible for;
  • Your National Insurance Number;
  • The details of your bank, credit union or building society.

If you do not currently have a bank account, you can set one up. However, if you do not want to do so, you will be able to receive Best Start Grant the same way you receive other benefits. To do so, call Social Security Scotland free on 0800 182 2222, Monday to Friday between 8am and 6pm.

If you have no access to public funds and are applying for Best Start Foods, you will also need to let Social Security Scotland know at the time of your application.

How can I apply for Best Start Grant?

How can I apply for Best Start Grant and Best Start Foods?

You may do your application online, by phone or by post. Additionally, you can also apply in a language other than english. You may apply online on the website.

If you want to apply online, you can do so on the Scottish Government website. The application should take around 10 to 20 minutes. You may take longer if you need to, however. The application cannot be saved, and you will need to complete it in one go.

Note that you cannot apply online if one of the following applies to you, you:

  • Are 18 or 19 and receive benefits through your parent or carer;
  • Do not have a permanent address;
  • You have not created a bank account and receive benefits with the help of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP);
  • You are applying on behalf of someone else.

If any of these apply to you, you will have to phone for your application. More details below. If you believe that you are eligible for online applications, you may apply.

Furthermore, to apply by phone, you can call Social Security Scotland for free at 0800 182 2222, Monday to Friday between 8am to 6pm. If you wish to do your application in British Sign Language, you can do so through the contactSCOTLAND app. You will be able to contact Social Security Scotland by video.

If you want to apply by post, you will need to fill a paper form. In fact, to receive a pre-paid envelope to send your application, you can request one from Social Security Scotland by phone at 0800 182 2222.

If you wish to apply in a language other than english, call 0800 182 2222. Social Security Scotland will allow you to apply over the phone in over 100 languages. If you wish to apply by post, you can request to be sent a form in over 100 languages.

You may contact Social Security Scotland for free at 0800 182 2222, Monday through Friday between 8am and 6pm for help.

I applied, what happens now?

If you requested an email or text message, you will be notified by the method you indicated once Social Security Scotland receives your form.

You may be requested to send additional documents after you have applied. Such documents might include the copy of a certificate, a legal order or a letter from your local authority. If this is your situation, you will need to send these documents before Social Security Scotland finishes processing your application. 

To send your documents online, you may upload them online on the Scottish Government website. If you wish to send them by post, you can do so at the following address: 

Social Security Scotland
PO Box 10300

Make sure that you have paid your postage correctly before sending the copies of your documents. Make sure they are copies, as it may take a long time for Social Security Scotland to return original documents. You must also write the following information on each of them:

  • Your full name;
  • ‘Best Start Grant and Best Start Foods’ (you must write the following even if applying for Scottish Child Payments);
  • Your date of birth;
  • Your National Insurance number (if you know or have access to it).

What else should I know?

Once your application is processed, you will receive a letter telling you if you will be receiving the benefits. You will receive a letter for each of them, usually within 30 days of the date of your application. If there is a delay, you will be notified, no need to contact Social Security Scotland.

Once you applied to Best Start Grant, you will get it within 7 days of receiving your confirmation letter. If you are confirmed to receive your Best Start Foods card, you will get it within 6 days of receiving your confirmation letter.

Autres questions fréquentes

Robin is a writer for Your Benefits, writing about aids that people may be entitled to. He is currently working on his Master in journalism at the Institut Supérieur de Formation au Journalisme in Lille.

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