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Best Start Grant and Best Start Foods

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Money & Work Help with benefits, grants & support

The Best Start Grant is a series of cash payments to help cover the costs of some of the things you might need as you bring up a wee one. There are three payments that you can apply for depending on how old your child is: the Pregnancy and Baby payment, the Early Learning payment, and the School Age payment. 

You can choose what you spend the payments on – whether that’s a pram, clothes, toys or anything else you need. 

Best Start Foods is a payment card you can use to buy healthy food for you and your child. You can use it while you’re pregnant and on any child who is 3 or under.

Who can get the Best Start Grant and Best Start Foods?

You may be able to get Best Start Grant and Best Start Foods if all of the following apply:

  • you live in Scotland
  • you or your partner are getting certain benefits or tax credits
  • you or your partner are pregnant, or are the main person looking after a baby or child who's the right age for a payment.

If you're under 18, you don’t need to be on any payments or benefits to apply for Best Start Grant or Best Start Foods.

You can find out more about who can apply and when you need to apply here.

You may be able to get Best Start Foods for your child even if you cannot get certain benefits because of your immigration status. You can find out more about getting Best Start Foods if you have no access to public funds on the website

What is the Best Start Grant Pregnancy and Baby Payment?

The Pregnancy and Baby Payment helps with the costs of having a baby. You can spend it on anything you need, like a pram or buggy, clothes, toys or anything else. You can get Pregnancy and Baby Payment any time after you’ve reached the end of the 24th week of pregnancy until the day your baby is 6 months  old.

Visit to find out more. 

What is the Best Start Grant Early Learning Payment?

You can apply for the Early Learning Payment when your child is aged between 2 to 3 years and 6 months. You can choose what to spend the money on – whether that’s new shoes, travel to get around, or toys to help them learn. 

Visit to find out more.

What is the Best Start School Age Payment?

The School Age Payment helps with the costs of preparing for school when your child is first old enough to start primary school. Again, you can spend the money on anything your child needs, from shoes to a school bag.

When you apply relates to the age of the child and not when they start school.

Visit to find out more.

What is Best Start Foods?

Best Start Foods is a pre-paid card you can use to buy healthy food. It replaces the UK Government’s Healthy Start Vouchers in Scotland.

What can I buy with the payment card?

You can buy any of these foods:

  • Fresh eggs
  • Milk – plain cow’s milk and first infant formula
  • Fruit/vegetables – fresh, frozen or tinned 
  • Pulses (e.g. peas, lentils and beans) – dried, fresh, frozen or tinned.

You can use the card in any shop that sells the healthy foods listed on the card and takes card payments, and you can use it in store or online.

How many children qualify for a payment in each family?

There is no limit on the number of children you can claim Best Start Foods for. You will get a payment for any child you have a responsibility for who’s aged between birth and 3 years old. Visit to find out more.

How does the card work?

The card is just like a normal debit card with a pin number and is contactless too. You can use it anywhere that accepts bank card payments and sells the food you can buy with the card. It is also possible to use it for online shopping for your groceries if you have registered email and mobile numbers when registering your payment card

Will Best Start Foods affect other benefits?

No – Best Start Foods doesn’t count as income if you’re applying for any other benefits or tax credits.

You can find out more about Best Start Foods on the website.

How do I apply?

You can apply for any of these grants or payments here, or call Social Security Scotland on 0800 182 2222. You can also apply by post.

Visit to find out more.

Last updated: 13 Jun, 2023