Thousands of children eligible for new benefit
Social Security Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville gives an update on a new game-changing Scottish child payment, in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
Every one of us is being affected by the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak gripping the world, which is leaving our people, our communities and our economy facing major challenges.
Last week I updated Parliament on what impact the pandemic was having on social security services in Scotland. The main issue I wanted to get over to people is that the delivery of existing benefits will continue – with applications being received, processed and payments made. However, unfortunately I also had to announce that our plans for benefits due to be introduced over the coming year have had to change or be delayed, including disability payments. These will continue to be paid by the UK Government for the time being.
Our plans for the Scottish Child Payment have also needed to be amended, but I am committed to delivering it as soon as practicably possible.
Recruiting, inducting and training the additional people we will need to deliver the Scottish Child Payment, particularly, will be difficult as we work to slow the spread of this virus. So whilst we were firmly on track to open for applications for this game-changing benefit in Autumn, the knock-on effect of the changes to our lives due to Covid-19 means that our aim is to now start taking applications by the end of 2020 with payments being made from 2021. This is of course subject to sufficient staff being in place and when normal operations will resume across government.
There is no doubt this new payment will play a major part in tackling child poverty, helping those who may be facing even more hardship as a result of coronavirus, therefore I’m determined that all our available resources will be directed at that.
As well as prioritising the Scottish Child Payment, our other key focus is continuing the delivery of the benefits already available through Social Security Scotland.
Four of these benefits provide additional money for parents and carers on certain benefits or tax credits. This includes three Best Start Grant payments – Pregnancy and Baby Payment, Early Leaning Payment and School Age Payment – and Best Start Foods. Pregnancy and Baby Payment, Early Learning Payment and Best Start Foods are all open for applications now and School Age Payment will reopen on 1 June 2020.
I strongly encourage you to look into these payments and apply, if you think you are eligible. Information is available on mygov.scot or, while we have people working from home, people can request call backs by leaving us a message through our Freephone helpline 0800 182 2222.
Finally, financial support will be fundamental at this time for families across Scotland but I know your needs will be wider than this, and the measures in place are tough for those of us with young children. To help with this we’ve created a new section on parentclub.scot to put everything you need to know in one place, so if you’re looking for tips and tricks on talking to your kids about coronavirus, learning at home or even just coping as a parent, please take some time to check it out.