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How to apply for a Best Start Grant payment

This advice applies to Scotland

You should first check that you're eligible for any of the three Best Start Grant payments: the Pregnancy and Baby Payment, the Early Learning Payment or the School Age Payment.

You can apply:

You can apply for more than one payment at the same time. For example, if you have a four-month-old baby and a child of two and a half, you can apply for the Pregnancy and Baby Payment as well as the Early Learning Payment.

If you're applying by filling in a form, either online or on paper, you only need to fill in the one form to apply for both payments.

If you missed the time limit for applying because you were waiting for a decision about a benefit you applied for, you might be able to make a late application. You'll need to have been awarded that benefit for at least one day in the application window.

Read more about late applications on the page of the payment you are applying for: the Pregnancy and Baby Payment, the Early Learning Payment or the School Age Payment.

You might be able to apply for a Scottish Child Payment at the same time as a Best Start Grant. Check if you can get a Scottish Child Payment.

Extra help applying if you're disabled

If you have a physical disability, a learning disability or a mental health condition, you can get help with applying for benefits from Social Security Scotland.

This help is provided by putting you in touch with an advocate who can help you express your views, get information you need and help you make decisions.

You can ask for an advocate by contacting Social Security Scotland and asking for the Independent Advocacy Service.

You won’t be eligible for the service if you already have someone acting for you, such as an appointee or someone with power of attorney.

Gather everything you’ll need to apply

Getting all your details together will make it easier to apply.

You’ll need details of:

  • your National Insurance number
  • other benefits - the name of the other benefits that you or your partner get
  • your partner - if you have a partner, you’ll need their date of birth and National Insurance number
  • your due date - if you’re pregnant
  • your children - the dates of birth of any children under 16 in your household
  • your bank details - the name on the account, the name of the bank, building society or credit union, the sort code, account number and the building society or credit union reference number if you have one. 

Your National Insurance number

You can find your National Insurance number on a payslip or letter from HM Revenue and Customs. Call the National Insurance helpline if you can’t find it.

HM Revenue and Customs National Insurance Helpline for employees and individuals
Telephone: 0300 200 3500
Textphone: 0300 200 3519
Telephone from outside the UK: +44 191 203 7010
Monday to Friday, 8am to 5pm
Saturday, 8am to 4pm

If you don’t have one, apply for a National Insurance number on GOV.UK.

If you don’t have a bank account

You'll need to apply by phone or by using a paper form.

If you don’t have access to a bank account, the Best Start Grant payment can be made to a Post Office Card Account or in i-Movo vouchers. In this case you will need to apply on the phone or using the paper form only, not online.

Read more about getting a bank account.

Evidence you'll have to include with your application

You might not have to include any evidence with your application if Social Security Scotland can check your details from other sources. This might be the case if you've already registered for the Baby Box or you're getting Child Benefit, for example.

You might have to give some evidence depending on your circumstances. The types of evidence you might have to give include:

  • proof that you're pregnant - if you haven't registered for the Baby Box, such as a maternity certificate
  • proof that you're responsible for the child - if you don't get a benefit for the child you are applying for, such as a kinship care order
  • proof of residence in Scotland - if you're not on a qualifying benefit, such as a utility bill or a council tax bill
  • proof of housing benefit – such as a letter from a local authority.

When you apply, you'll be told what evidence you need to include with your application. If you apply online or by post, the application form will tell you what you need to include. If you apply by phone, the adviser will tell you.

You can submit evidence electronically or by post. If you send your evidence through the post, you should send a copy of your evidence, not the original document.

If you've had a hard copy of the application form sent to you, it will come with a pre-paid envelope for you to use to send in your evidence. If you haven’t got a pre-paid envelope, you can phone Social Security Scotland and ask for one.

Once you've applied for a Best Start Grant payment, Social Security Scotland might contact you to ask for more evidence if they need it.

Getting someone else to apply for you

Usually if you're the person who is responsible for the child or you're pregnant, you can apply for a Best Start Grant payment. Your partner can apply as well.

For the Pregnancy and Baby Payment, if you're a young parent (aged 19 or under), you can choose if you want your parent or carer to apply.

If you can't claim yourself, for example because you have a mental illness or a learning disability, you can arrange for someone else to apply for you. If you don’t have a partner and you aren’t a young parent applying for the Pregnancy and Baby Payment, you can arrange for a friend or relative to do this for you.

There's a section in the application form that your friend or relative should complete to say that they are filling in the form for you.

Read our page about getting someone else to manage your affairs. 

If you need more help to apply or with other issues to do with benefits, you can get advice from a Citizens Advice Bureau. Find out where to get advice.

How long will it take to get the payment

Social Security Scotland aims to process applications within ten working days.

If you're awarded the payment

Social Security Scotland will send you a letter to let you know what they've decided (this is called a 'determination') and what you'll be paid.

The money will be paid directly into your bank account if you have one. If you don’t, it will be paid in the same way as you get your other benefits.

If you're paid by mistake

If you're paid by mistake and it's your fault, you'll usually have to pay back the money. Social Security Scotland might decide it was your fault if you gave them incorrect information, for example. 

If Social Security Scotland made a mistake and you were paid too much money, you might not have to pay it back.

Find out how Social Security Scotland decides you have pay back an overpayment

If Social Security Scotland made a mistake and you were paid too little, you can ask Social Security Scotland to correct the mistake. For example, Social Security Scotland might have wrongly decided that you weren't entitled to an Early Learning Payment or that you were only entitled to a lower rate of the Pregnancy and Baby Payment.

You don't have to formally ask Social Security Scotland to look again at the decision (called a 're-determination'). But if Social Security Scotland doesn't agree that it made a mistake, you'll need to ask for a re-determination. Read more about challenging a decision.

If you're refused the payment

If Social Security Scotland decides that you're not entitled to a payment, you'll get a letter telling you the reasons for the decision.

If you don't agree with the decision, you can ask for Social Security Scotland to look at it again. This is called a 're-determination'. Read more about challenging a decision.

Giving incorrect information to Social Security Scotland  

If you deliberately give incorrect or incomplete information on your application form, you're committing a criminal offence for which you could be prosecuted.

Read more about Scottish benefit fraud.

Next steps

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