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Check if you can get the Pregnancy and Baby Payment

This advice applies to Scotland

The Best Start Grant is a new Scottish benefit to help parents and carers on low incomes with the costs of looking after children. It will eventually include three different payments, which can be applied for at different times in a child’s life. Currently the Pregnancy and Baby Payment and the Early Learning Payment are available.

You can get a Best Start Grant Pregnancy and Baby Payment if you meet five conditions. You need to:

  1. Apply within the time limit – check when you can apply
  2. Be pregnant or have a new baby in your household - check if you are a person who can apply for the payment
  3. Be getting a qualifying benefit - check which benefits you need to be getting. Some young people do not need to get any benefits
  4. Not already have had a payment – usually you won’t be able to get a payment if someone else has already had a Pregnancy and Baby Payment or a Sure Start Maternity Grant for the baby. There is an exception for people who have taken over responsibility for a child aged under one, for example kinship carers. Check if you can get a payment if someone else has already had one.
  5. Be living in Scotland – check if you can get the payment if you’re not a UK citizen or if you’re a UK citizen who has been living abroad

When can I apply for a Pregnancy and Baby Payment

You can usually apply for a Pregnancy and Baby Payment from the end of the 24th week of pregnancy up until your baby is six months old. This is called the 'application window'.

There is a longer application window if you have taken over responsibility for a child under one year old and you aren't the mother's partner.

If your baby is born prematurely

You can apply earlier if you or your partner gave birth to your child prematurely. The baby can have been born before or during the 24th week of pregnancy.

If your baby is stillborn

You can get a Pregnancy and Baby Payment if your baby was stillborn after the 24th week of pregnancy.

If you've taken over responsibility for a child under one year old 

The application window is extended up until the baby turns one in some situations, such as if you adopt a child or if you start looking after a child as a 'kinship carer'. You are a kinship carer if you take over looking after the child because a relative or close friend is unable to care for them.

Can I make a late application for the Pregnancy and Baby Payment

You may be able to make a late application for the Pregnancy and Baby Payment if you weren’t able to apply earlier because you were waiting for a decision to be made about a qualifying benefit.

If you are awarded the qualifying benefit for at least one day that falls within the application window for the Pregnancy and Baby Payment, then you can apply for the payment.

You must make sure that your late application is received by Social Security Scotland:

  • not more than 20 working days after the last day of the application window - this means not more than 20 working days after the end of the day on which the child is 6 months old or not more than 20 working days after the end of the day before the child’s first birthday depending on the reason that you are responsible for the child, and
  • within three months of you being told about the backdated award – you’ll need to apply within three months of the date that the authority made the decision, for example, the DWP or your local authority.

Who can apply for the Pregnancy and Baby Payment

You can apply for the Pregnancy and Baby Payment if you are:

  • pregnant or the birth mother of the baby
  • the partner of someone who is pregnant or the birth mother of the baby - you need to be married, civil partners or living together as if you were married or civil partners
  • getting Child Benefit, Child Tax Credit, Pension Credit or the child element of Universal Credit for the birth mother – for example, your 17 year old daughter is expecting a baby and you still get Child Benefit for her
  • responsible for the child in some other way – for example, you have adopted a child or are a kinship carer. 

If you've adopted a child 

You can get the Pregnancy and Baby Payment if you've adopted a child who is less than 1 year old.

If you are getting Child Benefit, Child Tax Credit, Pension Credit or the child element of Universal Credit for the child, then you will not need to give any evidence of the adoption to Social Security Scotland.

If you are not getting Child Benefit, Child Tax Credit, Pension Credit or the child element of Universal Credit for the child, then you will need to send Social Security Scotland a copy of the legal order that allows you to look after the child.

You should send a copy of the legal order to Social Security Scotland rather than the original. You can ask Social Security Scotland to send you a pre-paid envelope to put the copy of the order in. You can phone them to request this. If you were sent a paper application form the pre-paid envelope should have been sent with the form. Get Social Security Scotland's contact details on our page about how to apply.

Find out more about adoption.

If you're a kinship carer 

You can get the Pregnancy and Baby Payment if you're a kinship carer for a child who is less than one year old. This means that you are looking after the child because a relative or close friend is unable to look after them. For example you may be looking after your grandchild, a niece or a nephew. 

If you are not getting Child Benefit, Child Tax Credit, Pension Credit or the child element of Universal Credit for the child, then you will need to send Social Security Scotland proof that you are a kinship carer. This could be a copy of the legal order that allows you to look after the child or proof that you have dealt with the social work department about the care of the child. If you're not sure if the local authority recognises you as a kinship carer, you can phone the kinship care helpline.

You should send a copy of the legal order to Social Security Scotland rather than the original. You can ask Social Security Scotland to send you a pre-paid envelope to put the copy of the order in. You can phone them to request this. If you were sent a paper application form the pre-paid envelope should have been sent with the form. Get Social Security Scotland's contact details on our page about how to apply.

You can read more about kinship care on our kinship care page.

If your baby was stillborn or died after they were born

You can get the Pregnancy and Baby Payment if your baby was stillborn or died after they were born. You can apply up to six months after the day your baby was born. 

You need to have been at least 24 weeks pregnant for the payment to be made after a stillbirth. It won’t be made if you had a miscarriage in the first 24 weeks of pregnancy.

What benefits do I need to be getting to qualify for the Pregnancy and Baby Payment

You or your partner usually need to be getting one of the following benefits: 

  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Pension Credit
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Housing Benefit
  • Universal Credit 

You or your partner usually need to be getting one of these benefits on the day that you apply for the Pregnancy and Baby Payment.

There are exceptions if you are on Universal Credit, if you are under 18 or you are aged 18 or 19 and still in some types of education or training.

If you think you might be entitled to one of these benefits, you can get advice about this. Check how you can get advice from a Citizens Advice Bureau on our get advice page.

You can also use an online benefit calculator to see if you might be entitled to anything. You can find benefit calculators on the Turn2Us website or the Entitledto website. 

If you’ve applied for a benefit but not had a decision yet

If you have applied for one of these benefits but not yet had a decision, you can still apply for the Pregnancy and Baby Payment.

If you are waiting for a decision about a claim for Universal Credit, your claim for a Pregnancy and Baby Payment will be held until the end of the first Universal Credit assessment period. A Pregnancy and Baby Payment decision can then be made at this point. This is called a 'determination'.

If you are waiting for a decision about a claim for any benefit other than Universal Credit, the claim will be held for ten days in case a decision is made in that time. If so, then a determination about the Pregnancy and Baby Payment can be made. If not, you will need to re-apply for the Pregnancy and Baby Payment once your other benefit claim is decided.

If you’ve missed the application window for the Pregnancy and Baby Payment, for example, your baby is seven months old, but you have now been awarded a qualifying benefit, you might be able to make a late claim for a payment. This will only be possible if you have been awarded the benefit for a date that did fall within the application window. Find out if you can make a late claim for a payment.

If you are unsure about whether you can apply, check how you can get advice from a Citizen Advice Bureau on our get advice page.

If you or your partner are getting Universal Credit 

If you or your partner are getting Universal Credit, you might not get some Universal Credit every month if your income goes up and down. Check that you got an award of Universal Credit in the month before you apply for the Pregnancy and Baby Payment as this is what will be checked. It won't matter if you don't get any Universal Credit in the month in which you apply, as long as you got some for the month before you applied.

If your Universal Credit is reduced because deductions are being made, for example for a sanction or for money you owe, this won't matter. Social Security Scotland will look at the amount of your Universal Credit before any deductions are made.

Read more about how Universal Credit is paid on our page How Universal Credit is paid.

If you're under 18 you don’t need to be getting any benefits

If you are under 18 you don’t need to be getting any of the qualifying benefits

You can choose whether you want to apply and receive the benefit yourself or whether you want someone else to apply and get the benefit, such as your parent or carer. That person will need to be getting Child Benefit, Child Tax Credit or the child element of Universal Credit for you to show that you are still living with them. They will also need to meet the other conditions to get a payment.

If you're 18 or 19 years old you don’t need to be getting any benefits but your parent or carer does

If you're aged 18 or 19 you don’t need to be getting any benefits as long as someone else is getting Child Benefit, Child Tax Credit or the child element of Universal Credit for you. For example, your parent or carer might be getting one of these benefits for you because you are still at school or college.

You can choose whether you want to apply and get the Pregnancy and Baby Payment yourself or whether you want your parent or carer to apply and get the payment.

If you apply yourself, you’ll need to send in proof of the course that you’re doing. For example, a letter from your school or college. This will need to show:

  • the name of the school, college or place that is providing training
  • the name of the course
  • the start and end date of your course
  • your full name.

If your parent or carer applies for the payment, they can’t apply online at the moment. They can only apply by phoning Social Security Scotland - Tel: 0800 182 2222. They won’t need to provide the evidence about your course or training because their benefits can be checked instead.

Can anyone else have already had a Pregnancy and Baby Payment or a maternity grant for the baby

You can’t usually get a Pregnancy and Baby Payment if someone else has already had a Pregnancy and Baby Payment for the baby.

You can’t usually get a Pregnancy and Baby Payment if someone else has already had a Sure Start Maternity Grant for the baby.

The only time that you can get a Pregnancy and Baby Payment if someone has already had a Pregnancy and Baby Payment or a Sure Start Maternity Grant for the baby, is if you have taken over responsibility for the child. For example, you have adopted the child or you are a kinship carer.

Rules about living in Scotland

In most cases you will be able to get the Pregnancy and Baby Payment if you normally live in Scotland and you meet the other conditions for getting the payment.

You do need to be getting one of a list of benefits in order to be eligible for the grant (although there is an exception for some young people aged under 18 or aged 18 or 19 and still in education or training).

If you are not a UK citizen or if you’re a UK citizen who has been living abroad you may not be able to get any of these benefits. So you may not be able to get the Pregnancy and Baby Payment (although there is an exception for some young people aged under 18 or aged 18 or 19 and still in education or training).

Get advice if you’re not sure whether you are able to get the Pregnancy and Baby Payment because of residence issues. Read our page about how to get immigration advice

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