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Scottish Child Payment

This advice applies to Scotland

What is the Scottish Child Payment

The Scottish Child Payment is for parents or carers on low incomes who have a child under 6. It’s a payment of £20 a week for each child under 6. It’s paid every 4 weeks by Social Security Scotland.

Who can get the payment

You can get a Scottish Child Payment if all of the following apply:

  • you or your partner is responsible for a baby or child under 6
  • you get certain benefits
  • nobody else gets a Scottish Child Payment for the child
  • you live in Scotland.

If you have more than 1 child under 6, you can get a payment for each child.

Who is responsible for a child

You or your partner must be responsible for a baby or child under 6 on the day that you apply. You can show you’re responsible for the baby or child if you or your partner:

  • gets Child Benefit for them, or
  • is responsible for them for Child Tax Credit, the child element of Universal Credit or the child addition of Pension Credit, or
  • is their kinship carer. 

If you’re a kinship carer, you’ll need to show a legal order or a letter from the local council. You might have a legal order like a kinship care order, compulsory supervision order, residence order, permanence order or guardianship order.

Which benefits do you need to be getting

You must get 1 of these benefits:

  • Child Tax Credit
  • income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Pension Credit
  • Universal Credit – if your UC is reduced to £0 by a sanction or a deduction, you can still get Scottish Child Payment
  • Working Tax Credit.

If you're on a low income but you're not yet getting 1 of these benefits, check which benefits you can get.

If you’ve applied for 1 of these benefits but not yet had a decision, you can still apply for the Scottish Child Payment.

If you’re waiting for a decision on your benefits

Social Security Scotland will keep your Scottish Child Payment application in case a decision is made about your other benefit. If a decision is not made within 14 days, Social Security Scotland will decide you’re not entitled to a Scottish Child Payment.

If you get a decision after 14 days and it’s backdated to include the date you applied for a Scottish Child Payment, you should contact Social Security Scotland. They can decide on your Scottish Child Payment without you sending a new application.

If you’re not sure if you can apply, you can get advice from an experienced adviser, for example at a Citizen Advice Bureau. Find out where to get advice.

The Scottish Child Payment won’t affect your other benefits.

How to apply for the Scottish Child Payment

Payments will be calculated from the day that you apply, so apply as soon as you can.

You can make an application with details of all of the children under 6 you take care of.

When you apply for the Scottish Child Payment, you'll be asked if you want to apply for a Best Start Grant or Best Start Foods at the same time.

If you’ve already had a Best Start Grant, you can still apply for the Scottish Child Payment.

You can apply:

If you're a British Sign Language (BSL) user, you can use the contactSCOTLAND app to contact Social Security Scotland by video relay.

You can find out more about Best Start Grant and Best Start Foods.

Help to apply from Social Security Scotland

You can get help to apply for Scottish benefits from Social Security Scotland’s local delivery service. Phone Social Security Scotland on 0800 182 2222 to make an appointment.

You could arrange: 

  • a home visit
  • a video or phone call
  • a meeting in a local community centre. 

A client support adviser can go through the application with you. They’ll answer questions about the application and help you with any supporting information you need to provide.  

Getting an advocate if you’re disabled or have a mental health condition

If you're disabled or have a mental health condition, you can get help from the Independent Advocacy Service. The service is provided by VoiceAbility.

An advocate can help you to:

  • express your views
  • get information
  • make decisions.

They can help you at any time, from making your first application to challenging a decision that you don’t agree with. 

You can get an advocate by:

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.

After you've applied

Social Security Scotland will tell you when they’ve received your application. They aim to process your application as quickly as possible. They’ll write to you to tell you the result of their decision.

If more than 1 person applies for the same child

Only 1 person can get the Scottish Child Payment for a child.

If you and somebody else apply for the same child, Social Security Scotland will decide who gets the payment based on which benefits you already get for the child and how you can show you're responsible for the child.

Social Security Scotland must decide on the application of the person who applied first, before deciding on another application.

You’ll get the Scottish Child Payment if you get 1 of these benefits for the child:

  • Child Tax Credit
  • Pension Credit with child element
  • Universal Credit with child element.

If you’re a kinship carer, you’ll get the Scottish Child Payment if either:

  • no one else applying gets 1 of these benefits
  • the child’s circumstances show that you’re responsible for them.

If no one is a kinship carer or getting benefits

You’ll get the Scottish Child Payment if you get Child Benefit and no one who applied:

  • is a kinship carer
  • gets Universal Credit, Pension Credit or Child Tax Credit for the child.

But if no one gets Child Benefit, Social Security Scotland will decide who gets the payment by considering the child’s circumstances. This means they’ll think about where the child lives and how they’re cared for.

If you’re both kinship carers or getting benefits

The person who applied for Scottish Child Payment first will get the payment if everyone applying has the same level of priority.

You might have the same level of priority if you and the other person:

  • are kinship carers but don’t get any benefits for the child yet
  • get Universal Credit, Pension Credit or Child Tax Credit for the child.

For example, you might both get a benefit like Universal Credit for the child because you have a joint claim.

Support when contacting Social Security Scotland

You can ask someone else to contact Social Security Scotland about the Scottish Child Payment or your application. This person is called a 'supporter'. A supporter could be anybody you trust, like a friend or family member.

Social Security Scotland can give some general information to your supporter without your consent. You might ask your supporter to contact Social Security Scotland by phone or webchat to:

  • ask for general information about the benefit 
  • check the status of your application - your supporter might need to answer security questions
  • tell Social Security Scotland about a change in your circumstances - your supporter might need to answer security questions. Social Security Scotland will usually check any changes with you. 

Supporters can’t contact Social Security Scotland by email or letter.

Social Security Scotland won’t give your supporter any specific information about your circumstances.

How and when the Scottish Child Payment is paid

If you’re awarded a payment, you’ll be paid every 4 weeks.

The payment is £20 a week. There are no part payments, so as long as you’re eligible for 1 day in a week, you’ll get a full payment for that week.

Your payments will be paid into the bank account you put on your application form. If you want to change this, contact Social Security Scotland.

Your first payment might be different from the other payments because of high demand when applications open. Social Security Scotland will tell you when to expect your first payment and the payments after that.

If your circumstances change

You’ll need to tell Social Security Scotland if your circumstances change. This includes if:

  • you stop being responsible for the child – for example, someone else becomes their kinship carer
  • your other benefits stop, like Universal Credit
  • you stop living in Scotland.

You should also tell them if there's a change to your personal details, like your name, address or payment details. 

Find out how to report a change of circumstances on mygov.scot

If you become responsible for another child

You won’t need to make a new application if you become responsible for another child. You can add them to the claim you already have. 

You’ll need to show Social Security Scotland that you’ve become responsible for another child. You can show you’re responsible for a child if you or your partner:

  • gets Child Benefit for them, or
  • is responsible for them for Child Tax Credit, the child element of Universal Credit or the child addition of Pension Credit, or
  • is their kinship carer. 

Social Security Scotland will use your original Scottish Child Payment application to get the other details they need about you.

Your payments for each child will be made at the same time as the Scottish Child Payments you already get. 

When your child turns 6

The Scottish Child Payment will stop when your child turns 6. You’ll still get £20 for the week they turn 6 – it doesn’t matter what day of the week their birthday is.

You’ll get a letter from Social Security Scotland 2 months before your child’s 6th birthday telling you that the payment will stop soon. You’ll get another letter on or soon after your child’s 6th birthday telling you that your payments have stopped.

Bridging payments

Once your child starts school, you should register with your council for free school meals because you're on a low income. Once you're registered, you'll be able to get the Scottish Child Payment bridging payments.

The bridging payments are temporary payments for families with children over 6 to make up for no longer getting the Scottish Child Payment. The Scottish government is going to extend the Scottish Child Payment to all under-16s at the end of 2022. 

You'll get 4 payments of £130 in 2022 for each child registered for free school meals. These will be paid around the start of the Easter, Summer, October and Christmas school holidays.

Read more about the Scottish Child Payment bridging payments.

If you don’t get the payment or get less than you expected

If you’re not awarded the Scottish Child Payment, Social Security Scotland will send a letter telling you why.

If you disagree with the decision or the amount you’ve been paid, you can ask Social Security Scotland to look at it again. This is called a 're-determination'.

You have 31 days from the day you got the decision letter to ask for a re-determination. You're assumed to have received a letter 48 hours after Social Security Scotland sent it, unless you can show that there was a delay in getting the letter. This period of 31 days can be extended to up to 12 months if you have a good reason.

Find out more about asking for a re-determination.

If you’re paid by mistake

If you’re paid a Scottish Child Payment by mistake or you’re paid too much, you might have to pay the money back to Social Security Scotland.

Find out how Social Security Scotland decides if you have to repay an overpayment.

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