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Scottish parents can now apply for a £250 grant for school-age children

Applications are now open for a new £250 payment for low-income families in Scotland, which is paid when your child is old enough to start school. 

The £250 school age payment is open to those who live in Scotland, have responsibility for a child, and receive certain benefits such as universal credit, child tax credit or working tax credit.

Families should apply in the year their child is old enough to start school – although their child doesn't actually need to be taking up a school place to receive it, for example if they're home-schooled.

The payment is part of the best start grant, a series of three one-off cash payments at different stages of a child's development – if you apply for all three, you could receive up to £1,100 for your first child from their birth to when they start school.

See our Baby Checklist guide for more tips on saving money with kids.

When do I need to apply?

You can apply for the £250 school age payment in the year your child, or the child you have responsibility for, is old enough to start school.

  • For children born between 1 March 2014 and 28 February 2015, you need to apply by 29 February 2020.

  • For children born between 1 March 2015 and 29 February 2016, you'll be able to apply between 1 June 2020 and 28 February 2021.

  • For children born later than February 2016, you'll be able to apply after May 2021.

You cannot apply for the school age payment for a child born before 1 March 2014.

Am I eligible for the grant?

You can apply for the school age payment (or any of the other payments in the best start grant package) if you're the main person looking after the child, and receive or have applied to receive one or more of the following benefits (regardless of if you're in work or not):

  • Child tax credit
  • Housing benefit
  • Income support
  • Income-based jobseeker's allowance (not contribution-based)
  • Income-related employment and support allowance (not contribution-based)
  • Pension credit
  • Universal credit
  • Working tax credit

If you're a parent aged under 18, you can apply for the grants regardless of whether you receive any benefits.

And if you're a parent aged 18 or 19 who doesn't receive any benefits, you can apply if your parent or carer receives universal credit child payments, child tax credit, child benefit or the child addition part of pension credit.

How do I apply for the grant?

You can apply for any of the best start grant payments if you're the "main person looking after a child". This could be if you're the child's birth mother or live with the child's birth mother as a couple, or if you're a single father. You can also apply if you've taken over looking after a child – for example, if you've adopted or you're a kinship carer.

Applications can be made online or by phone on 0800 182 2222 – the phone line is open from 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday.

You'll apply through the same form regardless of which of the grants you're eligible for – but if you've previously received one grant and your child is now old enough to be eligible for the next one, you'll need to make a new application.

You will need to provide some details as part of your application:

  • Your name, date of birth and address, and the name and date of birth of your partner if you have one.

  • Details of your child or the child you care for.

  • Your bank, credit union or building society account details. If you don't have one of these accounts, you can request to be paid in the same way as you're paid for your other benefits – you'll need to call 0800 182 2222.

  • Your national insurance number.

What other grants are available?

The school age payment is one of three cash grants which have been introduced over the last year, and are designed to support low-income families in Scotland at different stages of their children's development.

The other grants are:

  • Pregnancy and baby payment, which you can apply for from when you're 24-weeks pregnant to when your baby is six months old (or a year old if you've adopted).

    You'll be given a one-off £600 payment for your first child, and £300 for any other child.

  • Early learning payment, which you can apply for from your child's second birthday to when they're three years and six months old.

    You'll be given a one-off £250 payment for each child.

What does the Scottish Government say?

Social Security Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said: "Covering the costs of a child starting school puts pressure on family finances, and we have created this new payment to help ease that burden, putting more money into the pockets of families at a time when they need it most."

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