Reported by The Herald – the news we share raises awareness of equality issues being reported in the media.

Around £3.5 million has been paid out to almost 10,000 low-income families in the first three months of a new payment scheme to help cover the costs of having a baby, according to official statistics.

Following the transfer of 11 social security powers to Holyrood from Westminster, the Scottish Government last year began a rollout of benefits as part of the phased introduction of a new social security system.

It means low-income families have been able to apply for the first part of the new Best Start Grant, the Pregnancy and Baby Payment, since it opened in December.

The payment provides £600 for a first child and £300 for any siblings thereafter and is designed to help with the costs of pregnancy or having a baby such as for maternity clothes, a cot or pram.

It replaces the UK Government’s Sure Start Grant, which does not entitle payment to children who are not the first born in their family.

Analysis suggests the UK grant paid out around £2 million in 2017-2018.

Figures published by the Scottish Government show payments were made to 2,400 families who have had their first child, while payments were also made to around 7,300 families who had a child already and have now welcomed a newborn into their household.

Cabinet Secretary for Social Security Shirley-Anne Somerville said the statistics are evidence of what Holyrood can do with the powers to help support families across the country.

“I am committed to making sure that every child gets the support they need to have the best start in life,” she said.

“The huge take-up of this new benefit in its first three months highlights just what can be achieved when you design a service with the people who will actually use it.



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