New benefit launched in Scotland to help with school costs

As reported by The Scotsman, a new benefit payment scheme has been launched for low-income families to help cover the costs of school

Low-income families in Scotland can now apply for a new benefit which will help cover any costs incurred by sending their children to school.

Eligible families applying for the School Age Payment will be provided with £250 per child when that child begins school.

Families can apply now for pupils starting school in August. Applications are open until 29 February 2020.

It is part of the Best Start Grant, which is a package of payments for families who receive Universal Credit, income support, housing benefits and/or tax credits.

The aim is to provide assistance at key stages in a child’s life.

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.

“We are committed to doing all we can to make sure Scotland is the best place for a child to grow up. We want to increase financial support to families, bringing equality to children by giving them help towards a fairer start.

“We also want to encourage everyone who is entitled to a payment to apply, so will be working with services to promote the benefit to ensure as many people as possible are aware they can access this new additional support.”

Scottish Greens parliamentary co-leader and social security spokesperson, Alison Johnstone MSP, encouraged all eligible families to apply for the grant.

She said: “Greens have been calling for expansion of income maximisation schemes that raise awareness of social security entitlements and offer support to apply for them.

“One such scheme, Healthier, Wealthier Children, which is putting millions into the pockets of families when it would otherwise go unclaimed, is being rolled out across Scotland because of Green action.

“We should be building a new Scottish social security system that doesn’t simply wait and hope people will apply, but actively reach out to make people aware of what support they are due and ensure that gets to them.

“Making families aware that children starting school can get this new help is an important part of that.”

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