HELP & ADVICE
During my surgeries and in the contacts my constituents make with me, many of you have asked me which benefits you are entitled to, especially as household budgets are so tight.
These are wide ranging so I have put together this guide which contains information on the new benefits and help available in Scotland from the Scottish Government.
HELP FOR FAMILIES
Scottish Child Payment
The Scottish Child Payment is £100 per eligible child, payable every four weeks. There is no limit on how many children within a family can receive the Scottish Child Payment. It is not affected by the two child limit on certain UK Government benefits and is only available in Scotland.
Everyone who receives a school clothing grant will qualify for at least £120 per child of primary school age and £150 per child of secondary school age. You may also be able to apply for free school meals at the same time.
Discretionary Housing Payment
This is available to assist families affected by the UK Government benefit cap and the bedroom tax.
Free School Meals
Children can get free school meals during term-time in primary 1 to 5, your family's financial circumstances do not matter. Around 145,000 primary and secondary children and young people from low income households can also receive school meals support during the school holidays.
Education Maintenance Allowance
Provides financial support to young people from low income families to stay on in post-16 education, either in school or on a college course. A weekly payment of £30 is made to a young person and is subject to attendance and agreement of a learning plan.
School Age Payment
This is a new £252.50 payment to help with the costs of preparing for school.
Job Start Payment
To help you with the costs of starting a new job. You can apply if you're a young person or care leaver who's both: been out of work on certain benefits. You also need to meet the other requirements. You can get a one-off payment of either: £267.65 or £428.25 – if you're the main carer of any children.
HELP FOR CHILREN
From the Scottish Government. Gives every baby born in Scotland the best start in life by providing families with a Baby Box, filled with essential items needed in the first six months of a child’s life. Almost a quarter of a million baby boxes have been delivered across the country since its launch five years ago. You apply through your maternity services. I’m pleased to say the take up is fantastic at 96% and I am told how welcome it is.
Childcare and Nursery Places
Up to 1,140 hours of funded early learning and childcare a year (around 30 hours a week in term time) if your child is 3 or 4 years old. Some 2 year olds are also eligible.
Best Start Grants
For families who receive certain benefits. A one-off payment of up to £600 from 24 weeks in pregnancy up until a baby reaches 6 months. Also a one-off payment of £250 when a child is between 2 and 3 and a half years old for families plus a one-off payment of £250 when a child would normally start primary one.
Best Start Food Payment
A prepaid card from pregnancy up to when a child turns 3, for families on certain benefits to help buy healthy food.
Child Disability Payment
Nearly 44,000 children receive this payment as of September 2022. It provides money to help with the extra care and mobility costs that a child living with a disability might have. Between 26 July 2021 and 30 September 2022, the total value of Child Disability Payments issued was £59.9 million.
Free Bus Travel
Available to all young people under 22 helping with costs of studying and starting work. I know this is very popular and helps keep bus routes open. Scotland is the first country in the UK to offer free bus travel for young people. In total, 548,200 young people across Scotland have enjoyed over 34 million journeys.
HELP FOR DISABLED PEOPLE & CARERS
Free Bus Travel
If you have a disability, you could be eligible for free bus travel to get around Scotland. Unlike in England, this is not restricted to certain times. The scheme also allows for free travel for companions where required by eligible disabled people of any age (including children under 5).
Independent Living Transition Fund
This will help young disabled people, between the ages of 16 and 25, with the transition after leaving school or children’s services to be more independent in their community. It provides money – for up to one year – to support young people with a disability or impairment.
Carers Supplement Allowance
£245.70 is an extra payment for people in Scotland who receive the Carer's Allowance. It is paid twice a year.
Young Carers Grant
Young Carers Grant is a yearly payment of £326.65 for young carers in Scotland. You must be 16, 17 or 18 years old. You must also have been caring for 1, 2 or 3 people for an average of 16 hours a week for at least the last 3 months. If you care for more than one person, you can combine the hours of the people you care for to average 16 hours a week.
Adult Disability Payment
Provides money to help with the extra daily living and mobility costs that a person living with a disability might have.
Community Care Grant
Is about getting people back into a settled life. You may be able to get a Community Care Grant if you're leaving care or imprisonment, been homeless, need support to stay out of care. Also if you're caring for someone who's been released from prison or a young offender's institution, you're experiencing great pressure and need help to keep a settled home, you're escaping domestic abuse or a child's health is at risk.
HELP FOR ELDERLY PEOPLE & PENSIONERS
This is a benefit for people over State Pension age. It tops up your weekly income to £182.60 if you’re single or your joint weekly income to £278.70 if you have a partner. If your income is higher, you might still be eligible for Pension Credit if you have a disability, you care for someone, you have savings or you have housing costs. Around 40% of eligible pensioners have not claimed it. It opens entitlement to many other benefits.
Free Bus Travel
If you are over 60, you could be eligible for free bus travel to get around Scotland and your local area via the National Entitlement Card. Unlike in England, this is not restricted to certain times. I know this is greatly appreciated by many and it keeps some bus routes going.
Winter Fuel Payment
If you were born before 26 September 1956 you could get between £250 and £600 to help you pay your heating bills depending on your circumstances.
Free Personal Care
Adults of any age in Scotland, no matter their condition, capital or income, who are assessed by their local authority as needing this service, are entitled to receive it without charge. Free Nursing Care is similar and is available to all who are assessed as requiring nursing care services, regardless of age, without charge.
Bereavement Support Payment
You may be able to get Bereavement Support Payment if your husband, wife or civil partner died in the last 21 months. You must claim within 3 months of your partner’s death to get the full amount.
Funeral Support Payment helps pay for funeral costs if you live in Scotland. You can use the payment towards funeral costs for a baby, child or adult. This includes babies who were stillborn. It usually will not cover the full cost of the funeral but it should help pay for some costs.
Our healthcare system is still suffering from the impact of Covid and Flu. In addition we have lost staff through Brexit. I visited GP surgeries, chemists and dentists to see what advice they are offering, and I am happy to pass it on.
Provides urgent care if you think you need A&E but it's not life-threatening. Also offers advice when your GP, pharmacy or dental practice is closed. If there is a danger to life or serious injury, dial 999 or go straight to A&E. It helps you to get the right care at the right place.
Are available to anyone resident in Scotland including if you attend a community pharmacy for treatment.
NHS Pharmacy First Scotland
Allows community pharmacies to give people expert help for treating conditions such as sore throats, earache and cold sores, along with common clinical conditions. Pharmacy teams offers advice, treatment or referral to other healthcare teams if required. This service will help people access the right care in the right place, without having to go to their GP practice or local Accident and Emergency Department for non-urgent treatment.
Free Eye Tests and Glasses Vouchers
All eye examinations are free in Scotland to those ordinarily resident in the UK, refugees, asylum seekers. If you have an eye problem, your local opticians (optometry practice) should always be the first place you go to for help. An NHS optical voucher may help towards the cost of your glasses or contact lenses. In Scotland, you are eligible for a voucher if you are under 16 or are aged 16, 17 or 18 and in full-time education or you need complex lenses. Vouchers are also available if you are on certain benefits. Ask your optician.
Dental examinations are free to all residents in Scotland. People automatically entitled to free NHS dental treatment in Scotland are anyone under 26 years old, pregnant women and nursing mothers.
Hearing Tests and Free Hearing Aids
Hearing aids are provided for free as a long-term loan. Batteries and repairs are free - you do not have to pay for any follow-up appointments or aftercare.
HOUSING, ENERGY & LIVING
Every day my email inbox is filled with requests for help and advice by constituents struggling while prices soar. I’m passing on some of the information I have been able to give those constituents.
To help with an unexpected emergency like a fire or flood, losing your money or your job if you are over 16.
Low Income Cost of Living Payment
You may be able to get £650 if you are in receipt of: Universal Credit, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA), income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), Income Support, Pension Credit, Child Tax Credit or Working Tax Credit.
Help with Energy Bills
The Home Heating Fund provides financial relief to energy consumers who are experiencing significant financial hardship and strives to provide this support to households regardless of the fuel or payment method used. That is, the project is inclusive of: users of prepayment meters, district heating networks and unregulated fuels. Funds are limited and you must supply evidence of having received energy and / or money advice from an accredited agency.
You could get Housing Benefit if you need help to pay your rent. Depending on where you live, you may have to claim Universal Credit instead. Universal Credit is replacing Housing Benefit for working age households. Housing Benefit can pay for all or part of your rent. How much you get depends on your income and circumstances.
Winter Heating Payments
Winter Heating Payment is replacing the Cold Weather Payment in Scotland. If you qualify you could get £50 once a year to help with your energy bills in winter. This starts in February 2023. You’ll get this payment automatically if you qualify.
MORE INFORMATION and HOW TO APPLY
The Scottish Government has established a new social security system which administers benefits only available in Scotland.
To find out more information and how to apply go to:
For other cost of living support go to:
Of course my surgeries are available. You can also contact my office and my experienced team will do their best to help you.