Benefits Support in Scotland: Grants, Payments, and How to Access Them
With lockdown measures continuing to be extended in Scotland until the end of February, many people may be feeling uncertain about their options for state-issued support and guidance. However, if you are a parent, guardian, or young carer living in Scotland, the Scottish government has developed a number of benefits, grants, and other means of support which you may be eligible to apply for.
There are a number of child benefit support options available for eligible Scottish citizens, which can help to mitigate difficulties which many households may currently be facing as a result of the coronavirus and lockdown restrictions in Scotland.
The Scottish Child Payment
If you are a parent or guardian, the Scottish Child Payment (SCP) can offer aid by helping to cover the costs of supporting your family. If you apply for this benefit and are successful, you will receive a weekly payment of £10 for every child in your care under the age of six. This payment is distributed every four weeks.
Once you receive the payment, it is your responsibility to manage and decide what the funds will go towards. Often, these payments are used to cover the costs of:
- Essentials, like nappies, hygiene products, food
- Travel costs
- Family activities and days out
If you make a successful claim for the Scottish Child Payment benefit, any other outstanding UK or Scottish Government benefits which you, or anyone else in your household, receive will not be affected. If you have concerns about how the Scottish Child Payment scheme might affect any local council allowances or grants you currently get – e.g., the Scottish Welfare Fund - the best way to check is to contact your local authority. You can find your local authority by visiting Find your local council - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk).
The Scottish Child Payment scheme currently operates on a one-payment-per-child basis, meaning that if more than one person applies for the same child, Social Security Scotland will enact a process to decide which of the applicants receive payment. This is called a 'double claim', and the decision-making process will consider any outstanding benefits which both parties also get. For questions or concerns about double claims, you can visit the Social Security Scotland ‘who should apply’ section of their website, or call them free on 0800 182 2222.
If you are thinking of applying for Scottish Child Payment but are unsure whether or not you are eligible for the scheme, Social Security Scotland lists the following as suitable circumstances in which to apply for the program:
- You live in Scotland
- You or your partner currently already receive certain benefits/payments*
- You or your partner are the main guardian for a child under the age of six
*The benefits which you or your partner already receive can include Universal Credit, Child Tax Credit, Working Tax Credit, Income Support, Pension Credit, Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, and Income-related Employment and Support Allowance. If you do not receive any of these benefits, but have applied for at least one of them, you can still apply for the Scottish Child Payment scheme.
Other Benefits – Best Start Grants / Payments
Alongside the Scottish Child Payment, there may be other benefits which you may be eligible to apply for. These include the Best Start Grant, and Best Start Foods. The Best Start Grant consists of three cash payments, each of which is only payable once per child. The three main forms of Best Start Grant include the Pregnancy and Baby Payment, Early Learning Payment, and School Age Payment.
Best Start Foods is not a cash payment, but instead provides a pre-paid card which can be used to buy healthy foods, in store and online. If you are a parent or guardian, you can apply for the Best Start Foods programme from the time when you or your partner is pregnant, up until the time that your child turns three years old. For more information and to view the full terms and conditions for the Best Start Grant or Best Start Foods schemes, visit the full Social Security Scotland webpage on ‘other benefits you may be able to get’.
Support for Young Carers
If you are a young carer living in Scotland, you may be eligible to apply for support from the Scottish Government. Specifically, the Young Carer Grant provides a yearly payment to young people who provide care for another individual, at a flat rate of £305.10 (paid once per year, increasing subject to inflation). If you are successful in applying for this grant, there are no restrictions on what you can spend the payment on.
If you have received the Young Carer Grant in a previous year but no longer live in Scotland (i.e., living elsewhere in the European Economic Area or Switzerland), you should refer to Social Security Scotland’s ‘Reapplying for Young Carer Grant outside Scotland’ webpage for guidance.
There are a few different ways for applicants to apply for the Young Carer Grant. This includes:
- Filling in a physical paper form
Online applicants can apply via the mygov.scot website, where the application must be completed in one single sitting. Applicants will not be able to apply online if they do not have a bank account (and need to be paid using another method), or if they are an appointee.
If you prefer to complete a physical form, paper applications are also accessible via the mygov.scot website, or can be requested over the phone on 0800 182 2222. Forms can be requested in alternative formats and languages.
To apply by telephone, applicants can contact the agency for free on 0800 182 2222; telephone application processes will be completed on Intelligence Evidence Gathering (IEG). If you have contacted the agency, an advisor should inform you of the personal details which you will need to provide in order to complete your application, alongside the eligible criteria for the benefit. You will be given the opportunity to call back when you have the relevant information on hand and are ready to complete your telephone application.
Once an application has been completed and submitted, it will be referred to a client adviser to be processed, who will ensure that all necessary parts of the application have been completed and, if it is a physical application, the form has been signed. Once complete, the eligibility of the application will be verified.
In order for a Young Carer Grant to be processed, applications must include the details of the young carer/applicant, as well as the details of at least one cared-for individual. If any of these details are missing from an application, Social Security Scotland should contact the applicant to resolve this and enable the application to be processed correctly. -
If you are responsible for the care or wellbeing of another individual or child, there are resources available which may be able to provide some extra support to help mitigate the responsibility of maintaining a family or household under coronavirus lockdown restrictions. For more guidance on the grants and schemes available for guardians and carers, visit Social Security Scotland’s ‘Guidance and Resources’ webpage.
Advice Direct Scotland have developed a new benefits calculator, which can advise of your entitlement to all UK and Scottish devolved benefits.
You can access the calculator HERE, or alternatively, by speaking with one of our advisers on 0808 800 9060 (Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm).
Article Contributed by Millie M. Reilly (Media & Marketing Intern)