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215 families from the Western Isles have benefitted from new welfare payments introduced by the Scottish Government, reveals Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan as he welcomes statistics published today.

The Scottish Government opened the Best Start Grant for applications in December 2018. The payment provides parents or carers who get certain benefits or tax credits with financial support during the key early years of a child's life.

In the first year of their introduction, payments worth £620,491 have been made to island families. The Best Start Grant provides payments to eligible families at the birth of children, at nursery age and at school age.

Alasdair Allan MSP, who sits on the Scottish Parliament’s Social Security Committee, commented: “The SNP are determined to use our powers to build a social security system built on dignity and respect.

“The Best Start Grant provides crucial financial support to families at key stages of their children’s lives, and I’m delighted that hundreds of families in the islands have already benefitted. 

“This is just one of the ways the SNP in government are working to tackle child poverty – with the first payments of the innovative new Scottish Child Payment set to be made this year.

“It’s also very welcome to see the work being done to make sure Scotland’s new social security regulations and payments are properly “island-proofed” following passage of the Islands Act 2018.

“Sadly the need to mitigate Tory cuts like the Bedroom Tax leaves us working with one hand tied behind our back. It’s time for Scotland to have full control of all social security powers so that we can build a fairer country.”

The Best Start Grant is an expanded replacement for the UK Government’s Sure Start Maternity Grant.

The Pregnancy and Baby Payment replaces and expands on the UK Government's Sure Start Maternity Grant by:

  • providing eligible families with £600 on the birth of their first child and £300 on the birth of any subsequent children
  • not putting a limit on the number of children that are supported
  • extending the application window from 24 weeks pregnant to 6 months after the birth, giving clients longer to apply