Date lodged: 17 September 2018
To ask the Scottish Government for what reason the eligibility criteria for the Best Start Grant (Pregnancy and Baby Grant) do not align with the eligibility criteria for free school meals.
Answered by: Shirley-Anne Somerville 3 October 2018
The eligibility criteria for Best Start Grant (BSG) ensure that low income families in Scotland who would have received a Sure Start Maternity Grant continue to receive support where they would not if eligibility was narrowed to match that for free school meals. Free school meals are universally available to pupils in primary 1-3 at all publicly funded schools in Scotland. For pupils above primary 3, free school meal eligibility is dependent on whether the pupil’s parents or carers, or the pupil themselves are in receipt of specified qualifying benefits, which are set out in legislation. There is an income threshold set in the qualifying benefits for free school meals where there isn’t for BSG. This means that BSG is paid to people on higher incomes than free school meals, including those experiencing in work poverty.