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Increase in payments to help boost family incomes

Delivering on 100 day commitment

Best Start Foods payments are increasing this month marking the achievement of another commitment for the first 100 days of this government.

The payment supports low income families to buy healthy food for children under the age of three, and forms part of the Scottish Government’s national mission of eradicating child poverty.

Best Start Foods is part of a package of five family payments administered by Social Security Scotland. It is made every four weeks on a pre-paid card to buy healthy food including eggs, milk, fruit, vegetables and pulses. The payment is increasing to £18 from £17 during pregnancy and for any children between one and three years old. It’s also increasing to £36 from £34 for children under one.

Between December 2018 when the first payment started and 31 May 2021, £60.8 million has been paid to 179,575 families for Best Start Grant and Best Start Foods -£16.7 million of these payments were for Best Start Foods.

Social Security Minister Ben Macpherson yesterday said:

“Unwarranted welfare cuts by the UK Government and the impacts of the pandemic are putting even greater pressure on family budgets. It’s our priority to do everything within our power to eradicate child poverty across Scotland. We committed to increasing Best Start Foods within the first 100 days of this Government and we have swiftly delivered. 

“We have also delivered on our 100 day commitment to pay £100 as part of Scottish Child Payment Bridging Payments worth £520 in both 2020 and 2021. Families will now have received £200 for each eligible child this year, almost two years ahead of the planned full roll-out of Scottish Child Payment for older children.

“We are set to invest £77 million both this year and next through this measure which is expected to benefit around 145,000 children and young people in receipt of Free School Meals on the basis of low income.

“Families in Scotland now have a unique package of payments that will help them as their child grows and I encourage all families on low incomes to check what they are entitled to. There are many forms of support available to ensure every child in Scotland has the best start in life.”


  • Statistics on Best Start Grant and Best Start Foods are published on a quarterly basis. Each publication covers information from 10 December 2018 (when Pregnancy and Baby Payment was launched) through to the end of the latest quarter. Publications are published approximately two months after the end of the period being reported. The full publication includes further information on the numbers of applications, decisions, payments, processing times, and re-determinations. Breakdowns include application channel, and by the geographies of local authority and health board.
  • Best Start Foods is money every four weeks on a pre-paid chip and pin Mastercard. The new amount is £18.00 (increasing from £17) every four weeks during pregnancy and for any children between one and three years old. This payment increases to £36 (from £34) for any child under one. The card can be used to buy healthy food including eggs, milk, fruit, vegetables and pulses.
  • Further information on all five family payment can be found by visiting
  • The Scottish Child Payment launched for children aged under 6 in February 2021 and tens of thousands of families have been supported to date. The payment will be made available for children and young people aged 6-15 by the end of 2022.
  • Best Start Grant and Best Start Foods high level statistics to 31 May 2021

Further information on eligibility for Free School Meals can be found at:


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