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Best Start Grant Guide

What is the Best Start Grant and Best Start Foods?

Have you overheard friends or family members talking about the Best Start Grant or Best Start Foods? Perhaps you’re wondering exactly what the Best Start Grant and Best Start Foods are. Are you eligible to apply? We’re here to explain all with our simple guide to these grants.

The Best Start Grant is also known as the early learning payment. It’s actually divided into three cash payments which you can apply for, depending on your child’s age:

  • Pregnancy and Baby Payment
  • Early Learning Payment
  • School Age Payment

If you’re the main person looking after a child, then you may be eligible to apply for one or all three payments.

Best Start Foods is a new Scottish benefit providing help to people and families on low incomes. The benefit is paid to women who are pregnant and families who have children aged up to three years old. Best Start Foods is a new payment that will replace UK Government’s Healthy Start Vouchers in Scotland. The new payment will replace the paper vouchers with a new payment card, giving you more flexibility in how you use it

Who gets the Best Start Grant and Foods?

So, how do you know if you’re eligible? You can book an appointment with your local Citizens Advice bureau or drop-in to find out! We’re here to help. If you’re the main person looking after a child, such as their birth mother or father (or if you’re living with the child’s birth mother/father and you’re married, civil partners or a couple), then you could apply.

You cannot get Best Start Grant or Best Start Foods if you only get Child Benefit. You must still be getting one of the benefits or payments from the list below to be able to get Best Start Grant or Best Start Foods.

Do you have to be working to apply?

You don’t need to be in employment to apply for the Best Start grants. If you’re over 18, you can apply whether you’re working or not, but you’ll need to be in receipt of one of the following payments:

  • Child Tax Credit
  • Universal Credit
  • Income-based Jobseekers Allowance (JSA), not ‘contribution-based’ JSA
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), not ‘contribution-based’ ESA
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Housing Benefit
  • Income Support
  • Pension Credit

If you don’t yet receive any of these but you’re in the process of applying, you can still make an application for the grants.

What about if you’re under 18?

Good news for parents under 18 – you don’t need to be on any payments or benefits to be eligible for the Best Start Grant or Best Start Foods. You can apply yourself for all payments. Or you could ask someone else to apply on your behalf for the Pregnancy and Baby Payment, provided they receive Child Benefit, Universal Credit Child Payments, Child Tax Credit or the child addition part of pension credit.

If you’re aged 18 to 19 and you don’t receive any of the above payments or benefits, you’ll need your parent/carer to apply on your behalf, and they must be in receipt of one of the above.

Three different payments

The Best Start Grant is a package of three payments to help at key stages in a child’s life. The payment you’re eligible for right now will depend on the age of your child. If you’re not sure, this is something East Dunbartonshire Citizens Advice Bureau can help with! Filling out forms and making sure you have all the right supporting evidence doesn’t need to be difficult. Just book an appointment today with one of our friendly advisers and we’ll guide you through the process.

You can apply for the Pregnancy and Baby Payment from the time you’re 24 weeks pregnant until your baby is 6 months old, and you could receive £600 for your first child or £300 for any children after your first.

The Early Learning Payment takes applications from your child’s second birthday until they are 3 years 6 months old, and you could receive £250 for each child.

If you apply for the School Age Payment in the year your child starts school, you could receive £250 for each child – a great way to get them off to the best possible start!

Best Start Foods

With Best Start Foods, you will get £17.00 every four weeks during pregnancy and for any children between one and three years old. This payment increases to £34.00 for any child under one. You can apply for Best Start Foods if you live in Scotland and get certain benefits or tax credits and are pregnant or the parent or carer of a child.

You can use the card to buy any of the healthy foods listed below:

Fresh eggs

Milk – plain cow’s milk and first infant formula

Fruit/vegetables – fresh, frozen or tinned (those with added salt and sugar are excluded)

Pulses (e.g. peas, lentils and beans) – dried, fresh, frozen or tinned.

How long does an application take?

The application process is simple and quick, and we offer free advice. The time taken to process your application can vary but you’ll usually receive your payment straight into your bank account. You’ll need to bring a few things with you to your appointment, but we can tell you more about this when we have a chat.

How The CAB can help you

If you’re eligible for the Best Start Grant or Best Start Foods, you can apply here. If you have any questions or are just looking for more general money advice, please contact us today. Why not pop into your nearest citizens advice bureau or give us a call to book an appointment?

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