Giving children a better start in life
We’re nearing the end of our Best Start Grant consultation – our new Scottish benefit to give low income families with young children more financial support.
To help us get it right we want to hear from as many people as possible – people of all ages, in all kinds of circumstances and from a variety of walks of life.
One of the most important groups of all is children – the very people that this benefit will help.
Just as we did for our recent work on child poverty, we’ve been working with the Children’s Parliament to make sure we hear their voices, and today they’re publishing a report of their work.
“A Better Start in Life” highlights how children feel about child poverty and how the Best Start Grant could help.
Children from three primary schools have contributed and what they have to say is powerful. Their feedback shows us that even young ones in primary school understand the effects of poverty and the difficult decisions that parents are forced to make when they don’t have enough money for all their needs. And they told us about their experience of how money worries can have a knock on effect on a family’s happiness and wellbeing.
In their report, the children tell us how practical support can contribute to a happy, healthy and safe environment and how they want this for every child in Scotland.
They see a grant as something that can “give someone a good start in life”, that it’s “a loan you don’t pay back” and they clearly understand the main point – that Best Start Grant means “more children will get a better start in life that they do”.
This is exactly what we want and why we are introducing Best Start Grant.
This benefit will give a total of £1100 to low income families – £600 when they have their first child and two more, new, payments of £250, one between the ages of two and three years-old when a child might take up a nursery place and one around the time of starting primary school.
We don’t do caps on how many children in a household get our support, so any further children will receive a total of £800 – a £300 birth payment, together with the two later payments of £250 each.
It has been valuable to hear directly from children. They understand more than we sometimes realise. They don’t restrict themselves in any way when they think about problems and they are keen to come up with solutions. We will take their thoughts – which include practical suggestions on how we deliver and advertise this new Scottish benefit – and build this into our thinking and work to design this service.
It’s a heart-breaking reality that there are some children in this country who know all too well what poverty means. This benefit alone won’t eradicate child poverty and address all the issues that the children have raised, but it is an important part of our work and a major investment to support children and low income families.
The Best Start Grant is just one part of our wider Child Poverty Delivery Plan that is in place to create a fairer society for children now and for generations to come.