Scottish Child Payment: what is the new benefit aimed at supporting families in Scotland, who is eligible and how to apply

The Scottish Government has launched a weekly child payment for low-income families.Helping towards the cost of supporting a family, the payment will be available from February 2021.

From 22 February 2021, low income families across Scotland will be able to access £10 per week for each child under the age of 16 if they are eligible for the new benefit.

Families with children aged under six have been prioritised and will receive the payment before those with older children.

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The Scottish Government is the only devolved government to offer this new support and expects to be inundated with applicants, which could delay the first payment.

The new Scottish Government child benefit is now open for applications
The new Scottish Government child benefit is now open for applications

Here is all the information you need to consider whether you should apply.

Who is eligible?

To apply now, you must live in Scotland and be the primary carer of at least one child under the age of six.

Families with children under the age of 16 will be able to apply at a later date.

To be considered, you must also receive one or more of the following benefits:

- Universal Credit

- Child Tax Credit

- Income Support

- Pension Credit

- Working Tax Credit

- income-based Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA)

- income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)

You can apply whether you are in work or solely dependent on government support, however only one person will be eligible for payment per child.

If you have not yet been approved for one or more of the above benefits, but have applied then you can also apply for the new child payment.

How do I apply?

If you are one of the estimated 194,000 families who could benefit, you can apply now if you are the parent or carer of a child aged under the age of six..

Before applying, you should have your bank details and any partner’s information to hand and know your child’s date of birth.

The application shouldn’t take longer than 20 minutes to complete and you must complete it in one go.

You can apply on this government website.

You can apply by post if you do not have a permanent address, do not have a bank account and have agreed a way for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to pay you or you're applying for someone who cannot manage their own affairs.

In order to apply, you may be required to provide a copy of:

- a Universal Credit statement

- a Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) benefit award letter

- a Tax Credit award letter

To confirm that you are the primary carer, you may be required to submit proof of the following:

- Child Tax Credit

- Child Benefit

- Universal Credit

- Pension Credit

You can also apply if you are not a parent but are the child's kinship carer. In order to do so, you may need to submit a letter from your council or a legal order letter.

When should I expect to receive a decision regarding my application?

Although applications opened on Monday 9 November, you will not receive a decision until at least 15 February 2020.

First payments will begin on 22 February 2021, however due to the large number of applications you may need to wait longer to receive your initial payment.

Applications for families of children under 16 but aged six or over will not be able to apply until at least 2021, with the Scottish Government aiming for all children to be in receipt of the payment by the end of 2022.

Why has this benefit been introduced?

The Scottish Government has introduced this measure as a means of tackling childhood poverty. Priority is being given to families with children aged under six because more than 60% of children living in poverty are from a family where there is a child under six years old.

The payment can be spent in any way a family decides, though the government has advised it should be spent on childcare, essentials such as nappies, and family days out.

Social Security Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said:

“The Scottish Child Payment is the most ambitious anti-poverty measure currently being undertaken anywhere in the UK.

“Significantly more families are now relying on benefits due to the events of this year – some perhaps for the first time – and this payment will help lift children in Scotland out of poverty.”