Single parents help to shape new benefit

Parents benefits

Shirley-Anne Somerville with Satwat Rehman

Shirley-Anne Somerville MSP visited One Parent Families Scotland this week to hear views on a new benefit

20th September 2018 by Gareth Jones 0 Comments

Parents have been helping to shape reforms to the benefits system in Scotland.

Shirley-Anne Somerville MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Social Security and Older People, met single parents this week to hear their personal experiences of the UK benefits system.

On the visit to One Parent Families Scotland (OPFS), the secretary said she is keen to help make sure the new Scottish system is based on dignity and respect.

The Best Start Grant is one of the first benefits to be delivered by the new Scottish Social Security Agency and the Scottish Government has been working with parent service users to develop this new service.

The Pregnancy and Baby Grant will be available before Christmas 2018 - a one-off £600 grant for the birth of a first child with £300 payments for second and subsequent children.  This will be followed by two further payments at key transition points in the early years by summer 2019.

Scottish Government staff set up sessions where users were able to try out the new application form (both online and in paper form), give feedback on the process and help the agency learn about their needs.

Somerville, who is responsible for delivering Scotland’s first devolved social security system, said: “I was really pleased to visit OPFS and meet some of the parents who’ve been instrumental in shaping the Best Start Pregnancy and Baby Grant. With their help, we’ve created a benefit that will pay more money to more children than the UK Government’s current Sure Start Maternity Grant and we will pay it six months ahead of schedule.

“We will continue to work with parents and families with experience of the current system to make sure our new Social Security system treats them with dignity, fairness and respect.”

Director of OPFS Satwat Rehman said: “OPFS has been very happy to reach out to women who have young children to involve them in supporting the development of the Best Start Grant. Scotland’s new social security system must be based on dignity, fairness and respect and involving parents who have great expertise through their own personal experience is a great start.”