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  • angela.constance.msp@parliament.scot

    Unit 4, Ochil House, Beveridge Square, Livingston, West Lothian, EH54 6QF

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Published date : 27 November, 2019

Almond Valley MSP Angela Constance has welcomed new figures showing that 2,520  payments to low income families have been made under the Scottish Government’s Best Start Grant and Best Start Foods schemes in West Lothian.


The Best Start Grant package is putting more money in the pockets of low income families than the DWP system it replaced.


The Grant comprises three cash payments:  the Pregnancy and Baby Payment, for parents with babies up to 6 months old; the Early Learning Payment, for when your child is 2 to 3 and a half years old; and the School Age payment, for when your child reaches school age.


Best Start Foods is a prepaid card that can be used in shops and online to buy healthy foods for children under 3.


The vast majority, 69% of the 3,645 applications processed from West Lothian were approved by Social Security Scotland. 


Across the country, £17.8 million of Best Start Grant and Best Start Foods payments have been made to support people between 10 December 2018 and 30 September 2019.


Ms Constance said that these figures showed what could be achieved if Scotland had full powers over social security.


The representative for Almond Valley commented:


“These payments are making a big difference to West Lothian families that are being pushed to the brink by continued Tory welfare cuts.


“The Scottish Government has strived to mitigate the worst effects of the Tories’ austerity agenda. The Best Start Grant and Best Start Foods payments sit in stark contrast to the two-child cap, benefits freeze and disastrous Universal Credit rollout recklessly imposed by the Tories. We can create a social security system which works to protect people rather than treating those on low incomes with the hostility and suspicion they have been subjected to under the Tories.






  • Best Start Grant is a package of three payments: Pregnancy and Baby Payment (applications taken from 10 December 2018), Early Learning Payment (applications taken from 29 April 2019) and School Age Payment (applications taken from 3 June 2019).
  • the payments are made to families in receipt of eligible benefits - including Universal Credit, Income Support, Housing Benefit and Tax credits
  • DWP spending figures on Sure Start Maternity Grant are available at fiscalcommission.scot/about-us/correspondence/correspondence-response-from-dwp-on-social-fund-figures-for-scotland-4-september-2018/


  • Best Start Foods is available to women who are pregnant and families who have children aged up to three years old.
  • It is paid as credit onto a pre-loaded payment card which you can use to buy certain foods. There are two rates of payment, either £4.25 a week or £8.50 a week. The amount you get depends on whether you are pregnant and/or how old your child is. You get a payment for each child aged under three.
  • You can apply to Social Security Scotland for Best Start Foods.
  • Best Start Foods replaces the UK wide Healthy Start vouchers for new claims in Scotland from 12 August 2019.
  • Best Start Foods won't affect any of your other benefits.


For more detailed breakdown of eligibility



Best Start Grant and Best Start Foods: high level statistics to 30 September 2019



Key Findings from Report

  • From 10 December 2018 to 30 September 2019, 96,535 applications for Best Start Grant and Best Start Foods were received. Out of these applications, around  36,750 (38%) were for Pregnancy and Baby Payment, 32,805 (34%) were for Early Learning Payment, 19,645 (20%) were for School Age Payment, and 13,115 (14%) were for Best Start Foods payment. Applications for multiple types of payment are counted multiple times within these figures.
  • Around 91,380 applications had been processed by 30 September 2019.
  • In total, £17.8 million of Best Start Grant and Best Start Foods payments had been issued to clients by 30 September 2019. Of this, £7.7 million was for Pregnancy and Baby Payment, £6 million was for Early Learning Payment and £4 million was for School Age Payment. A total of £72,471 was paid out for Best Start Foods by the end of September 2019.
  • We received more applications for subsequent births than first births. In total around 13,955 Pregnancy and Baby Payments were authorised for subsequent births by the end of September 2019, whereas 5,875 payments were authorised for first births in the same time period.

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    • angela.constance.msp@parliament.scot

      Unit 4, Ochil House, Beveridge Square, Livingston, West Lothian, EH54 6QF

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