What Benefits Can I Claim in Scotland?

Find out everything you need to know about what benefits are available in Scotland, whether you are eligible to receive them and how to go about making a claim.

Click on one of the options below to find out more:

Best Start Grant

If you have a child, you can get support from the Best Start Grant and Best Start Foods:

  • if your child is the right age for a payment
  • whether you're in work or not, as long as you're on certain payments or benefits
  • as long as you're the parent of a child, or the main person looking after the child

The Best Start Grant is a one-off cash payment, how much you get depends on which of the three age groups your child falls into. The three categories of payment are:

Pregnancy and Baby Payment

You can apply for the Pregnancy and Baby Payment from 24 weeks pregnant up to the day your baby is 6 months old. This goes up to 1 if you've taken over looking after a child, such as if you've adopted.

You will get £600 for your first child and £300 for any child that comes after your first. 

If you apply for twins and have no other children under 16, you'll get £1500. If you apply for twins and have other children under 16, you'll get £900. If you have triplets, you'll get an extra £300 on top of what you would have got for twins.

Early Learning Payment

You can apply when your child is aged between 2 years old and 3 years 6 months old.

If you get this payment, you will get £250 for each child eligible.  

School Age Payment

The day your child was born will affect when you should apply for the School Age Payment.

  • If they were born between 1 March 2014 and 28 February 2015, you would have needed to apply between 3 June 2019 and 29 February 2020.
  • If they were born between 1 March 2015 and 29 February 2016, you should apply between 1 June 2020 and 28 February 2021.
  • If your child was born later than February 2016, you'll be able to apply after May 2021. You cannot apply for the School Age Payment for a child born before 1st March 2014.

The School Age Payment is £250 for each child that is eligible.

Best Start Foods

This is a prepaid card that you can use to buy healthy foods for children under 3. You can use the card in shops and online. The payments are:

  • £17 every 4 weeks during pregnancy
  • £34 every 4 weeks from your child being born up until they're a 1 year old
  • £17 every 4 weeks between the ages of 1 and 3

Check the eligibility criteria, find more information and start the application process on the MyGovScot website.

Carer's Allowance

If you are aged 16 or over and spend at least 35 hours a week caring for someone, you might be entitled to Carer's Allowance.

You don’t have to be related to, or live with, the person you care for and you don't get paid extra if you are a carer for more than one person, however to be eligible the person(s) you care for must currently receive one of the following benefits:

  • Personal Independence Payment - daily living component
  • Disability Living Allowance - the middle or highest care rate
  • Attendance Allowance
  • Constant Attendance Allowance at or above the normal maximum rate with an Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit
  • Constant Attendance Allowance at the basic (full day) rate with a War Disablement Pension
  • Armed Forces Independence Payment

You could get £67.25 a week, which is paid directly into your account and you can choose between being paid weekly in advance or every 4 weeks.

Receiving Carer’s Allowance may affect other benefits you or the person(s) you care for already get and you must not be in full-time education or in part-time education or work for more than 21 hours a week.

Carer's Allowance Supplement is an extra payment for people in Scotland who get Carer's Allowance. It's paid two times a year and from April 2020 the rate will be £230.10 per payment. 

If you're due to get a Carer's Allowance Supplement, you'll get a letter from Social Security Scotland before the payment is made.

If you're not eligible for Carer's Allowance, you may be eligible for Carer's Credit. Visit Gov.UK for more information on Carer's Credit.

For more information on Carer's Allowance, eligibility criteria and how to apply you can contact the Carer's Allowance Unit.

Find out how to apply for Carer's Allowance using our guide as well as how to apply for Young Scot's Young Carer Package - full of enhanced discounts and opportunities.

Visit our Young Carers campaign page for more information.

Child Benefit

You can get Child Benefit if you’re responsible for a child under 16 years old, or someone under 20 who is in approved education or training.

If you have a partner who is also responsible for the child, only one of you are able to claim Child Benefit.

For your eldest or only child, you will receive £21.05 per week. If you have additional children you will receive £13.95 per child.

From January 7th 2013, changes to Child Benefit were brought in for higher-income families earning over £50,000 a year. If applicable, you would still receive the same Child Benefit amount but you would also have to pay extra tax which will effectively cancel out some or all of your Child Benefit. You can choose not to receive Child Benefit if you want to avoid paying this tax.

For more information on Child Benefit, eligibility criteria and how to apply you can visit the Gov.UK website.

Coronavirus-related support

If you are worried about how coronavirus will affect an existing benefit, or a benefit application, there is updated information on the Gov.UK website.

You can also read our article on how coronavirus may affect your work which also has some useful information about financial support that has been made available to support people with the economic impacts of coronavirus.

You can also find out what support you can get from the Scottish Government.

Council Tax Reduction

If you’re on a low income or claim benefits, you could be eligible to apply for a reduction in the amount of council tax that you pay. It can be reduced by up to 100%.

You can apply if you own your home, rent, are unemployed or working.

What you get depends on:

  • where you live - each council runs its own scheme
  • your circumstances (eg income, number of children, benefits, residency status)
  • your household income - this includes savings, pensions and your partner’s income
  • if your children live with you
  • if other adults live with you

The application process depends on the council area you live in so check you local authority website or you can put your postcode into the Gov.UK website to be directed to your council's website for more information.

Disability Living Allowance (DLA)

If you are aged under 16 and you have a health condition or disability that means you have more care or supervision needs than other children your age and/or you have difficulty walking or getting around outdoors in unfamiliar places, your parent(s), carer(s) or guardian(s) may be able to make a claim for DLA on your behalf.

You could get between £23.60 and £151.40 a week of DLA which will depend on the level required.

Disability Living Allowance for those over the age of 16 has been replaced by the Personal Independent Payment (PIP). Scroll down to find out more about PIP.

Find out more about DLA on Gov.UK.

Early Learning & Childcare (ELC)

From August 2021, if you have a 2, 3 or 4 year old, they could benefit from 1140 hours a year of Early Learning and Childcare (ELC).

This is free to you and funded by the Scottish Government and local authorities. That works out at about 30 hours a week if you use it during school term-time, or around 22 hours a week if you use it year-round.

You can access it at nurseries, childminders, or playgroups – or a mix of these! It just depends on what’s available near you.

The application process and dates may differ depending on your local authority. However, no matter where you live in Scotland you will get the full 1140 hours if you are eligible.

To find out more information and how to apply in your area, head to the Parent Club website.

Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA)

An Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) helps young people by providing financial support for students aged 16, 17, 18 or 19 who plan to stay on at school or college.

Every year if claiming EMA, you will have to complete:

  • an EMA application form
  • a learning agreement

You can apply for EMA or renew your application on the MyGovScot's website.

Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)

If you're ill, have a health condition, or a disability that means you find it a struggle or impossible to work then you may be able to claim Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).

ESA is usually paid every 2 weeks into your bank account, to help you with living costs, such as rent, bills and food.

You can apply for ESA if you’re:

  • employed
  • self-employed
  • unemployed
  • a student

The amount you are eligible for varies dependent on whether you're working or not and if you have savings.

There are two different types of ESA - ‘contribution-based’ and ‘income-related’. You can be eligible for just one of these types, or both at the same time.

You can find out more about Employment and Support Allowance on Gov.UK's website.

Funeral Support Payment

If you need support to pay for the costs of a funeral, this can be paid to yourself, a funeral director or whoever is arranging the funeral. Only one application can be made per funeral.

You can apply if you are currently receiving benefits or are waiting to hear the result of a benefit application.

Check the full eligibility criteria and how to apply on the MyGovScot website.

Guardian's Allowance

If you're bringing up a child whose parents have died, you may be entitled to claim. You would get £17.90 per week on top of any child benefit and it's tax free.

Check if you are eligible and how to make a claim on the Gov.UK website.

Housing Benefit

Housing Benefit helps people pay their rent if they are unemployed, on a low income or are claiming other benefits.

Housing Benefit is being replaced by Universal Credit, but, you can still apply for Housing Benefit for the first time if;

  • you’re getting the severe disability premium, or are entitled to it
  • you got or were entitled to the severe disability premium within the last month and are still eligible for it
  • you have reached State Pension age
  • you live in temporary accommodation
  • you live in sheltered or supported housing with special facilities such as alarms or wardens

If not, you'll need to claim Universal Credit instead.

To find out more about the Housing Benefit eligibility criteria, how to apply and whether or not your local area has moved to Universal Credit as a replacement, you can visit the Gov.UK website.

Income Support

If you are on a low income, you may be able to make a claim for Income Support.

Income Support is awarded to people who do not have enough money to live on.

Income Support has been replaced by Universal Credit, unless you either:

  • you’re getting the severe disability premium, or are entitled to it
  • you got or were entitled to the severe disability premium within the last month and are still eligible for it

Find out more about Income Support on Gov.UK's website.

Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA)

You can apply for Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) to help you when you look for work, it is a benefit for those who are able to work but are currently unemployed and looking for a job.

Once you make a claim, you are required to attend an interview at your local job centre, where they will help you apply for jobs dependent on your interest area and set you weekly goals e.g: how many jobs you have to apply for. Due to the current coronavirus pandemic you don't need a face-to-face interview to claim JSA, but Jobcentre Plus might still ask to talk to you by phone.

Your JSA payments will be stopped if you don't keep to your agreement to look for work and cannot give a good reason why you haven't if this is the case.

You are usually paid JSA every two weeks directly into your bank account and the amount you get depends on what age you are, what savings or other income you might have and if both you and a partner are applying together.

There is a 'new style' Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA) benefit available, which can be claimed with, or instead of, Universal Credit, depending on your National Insurance record, and you may be eligible if:

  • you're already claiming Universal Credit
  • you had a claim to Universal Credit within the last 6 months that ended due to high earnings
  • you're not receiving the severe disability premium, and have not received it in the last month

You can find out more about the new JSA on Gov.UK's website.

Making a claim for JSA also affects other benefits you may be on.

You can check your eligibility for both kinds of Jobseeker's Allowance and find out how to make a claim on Gov.UK's website.

Job Start Payment

Starting a new job? You could get a one-off payment of £250, or the higher rate of £400 if you're the main carer of any children.

You are eligible if you are living in Scotland, aged 16-24, have been offered a job on or after 17 August 2020 and have been out of work and receiving one or more of a qualifying benefits for at least 6 months when you receive a job offer. The qualifying benefits are:

  • Jobseeker's Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Employment and Support Allowance
  • Universal Credit

The work you have been offered also must average at least 12 hours per week over a 4 week period.  

Care leavers aged 16-25 can also claim. You're a care leaver if you've spent time in care but stopped being looked after on, or after, your 16th birthday. This could have been in either a foster, residential, secure or formal kinship care placement.

If you are a care leaver, you only need to be out of work and receiving a qualifying benefit on the day of the job offer, not for the previous 6 months.

The money is yours to use however you like and you do not need to keep or show any receipts for what you choose to spend it on. You could use it for things such as travel costs, such as a bus or train pass, lunches, new clothes or a uniform or childcare.

A claim can be made up to 3 months after the date of the job offer. To find out more about the Job Start Payment and how to apply, head to mygov.scot.

ILF Scotland Transition Fund

If you are between 15 and 25 years old with a disability or impairment, you can apply for a grant of up to £7,500 from the Independent Living Fund to help you take part in a new activity or learn a skill.

You can use the money for things like:

  • art or music lessons
  • a device or piece of technology to help you with your impairment
  • joining a class or club
  • travel training
  • driving lessons (vehicles are not usually funded)
  • training courses

You can find out more about the Transition Fund, read the eligibility criteria and download the application form on the MyGovScot website or the ILF website.

Maternity Allowance

This is usually available to you if you do not qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP), which is paid through your employer. You can check your eligibility for SMP on the Gov.UK website.

You can claim for Maternity Allowance as soon as you have been pregnant for 26 weeks and your payments can start 11 weeks before your baby is due.

It is paid every 2 or every 4 weeks and does not affect tax credits however it may affect any other benefits that you receive. How much you will get depends on how you meet the eligibility.

You can check the eligibility criteria as well as how to make a claim on the Gov.UK website.

Neonatal Expenses Fund (NEF)

The NEF is there to help parents of premature or sick newborn babies to help with the costs of travelling to and from hospital and allow you to be there during the early days of your babies life.

You can make a claim if you're the parent or guardian of a baby resident in a Neonatal Unit on or after 1st April 2018. Financial support can be provided for the cost of travel, parking and tolls, and meals and subsistence.

Transport

  • Claims will be reimbursed at 14p* per mile for up to one return car journey per day per family, or;
  • Public transport costs will be reimbursed in full for up to one return journey per day per family.
  • Standard class bus, train and ferry fares can be reclaimed upon production of receipts.

Parking and Tolls

Car parking costs and road tolls can be reclaimed in full as long as you provide the receipts.

In some NHS Boards you can get a permit to provide exemption from parking costs. Speak to staff about whether a permit is available or whether you should claim for a refund.

Meals and subsistence

Claims for meals may be made by one of the following means:

  • Meal may be directly provided free of charge for one parent by the NHS Board. ( e.g. staff canteen or patient meals)
    [or]
  • Reimbursement of up to £8.50 per day against food and non-alcoholic beverages once you provide the receipts

NHS Boards are not required to offer both of the above options – a minimum of one of the above will be offered in all hospitals. Further detail of provision within your hospital will be provided locally.

More information and an NEF claim form can be found on the MyGovScot website.

Personal Independence Payment (PIP)

Personal Independence Payment (PIP) is a newer replacement to what you may have heard of as Disability Living Allowance (DLA).

PIP can help you with some of the extra costs if you have a long term illness or disability.

You must be aged 16 or over and have a health condition or disability where you:

  • have had difficulties with daily living or getting around (or both) for 3 months
  • expect these difficulties to continue for at least 9 months (unless you’re terminally ill with less than 6 months to live)

Your income, savings, and whether you’re working or not don't affect your eligibility and you can receive PIP even if you're already claiming some other benefits such as Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).

You could get between £23.60 and £151.40 a week, which will be paid to you every four weeks.

The amount you get depends on how your condition affects you, not the condition itself.

More information about the eligibility criteria and how to apply for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) can be found on the Gov.UK website.

Scottish Welfare Fund

The Scottish Welfare Fund provides support to people in crisis, who need help with their living costs.

It's a national scheme that is provided by your local authority.

There are two types of grant that can be applied for:

  • a crisis grant
  • a community care grant

As they are grants, you don't have to pay them back.

These are usually one-off payments to help you pay for an immediate financial need, for example if you have had an accident or an emergency where you had to pay money for something which has left you short on paying for food and bills until you are paid your next benefit entitlement - you may be able to get a crisis grant.

There are certain restrictions to the Scottish Welfare Fund, such as that it cannot be used as a means to tide you over whilst you are awaiting a decision on a benefit you have applied for.

You must be 16 or older and on a low income or already be applying for certain benefits, to apply for a Crisis or Community Care Grant.

You can learn more about the Scottish Welfare Fund on the MyGovScot website.

Universal Credit (UC)

Universal Credit (UC) is a benefit which helps with living costs. In Scotland, you can choose whether you are paid once or twice a month.

Universal Credit is replacing a lot of the benefits you may have heard of before, such as:

  • Child Tax Credit
  • Housing Benefit
  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Working Tax Credit

If you're in receipt of any of the benefits above, you cannot claim Universal Credit at the same time.

Universal Credit is being introduced in stages across Scotland and the UK. You don't need to do anything until you hear from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) about moving to Universal Credit, unless you have a change in circumstances you would normally notify DWP about.

You may be able to get Universal Credit if:

  • you’re on a low income or out of work
  • you’re 18 or over (there are some exceptions if you’re 16 to 17)
  • you’re under State Pension age (or your partner is)
  • you and your partner have £16,000 or less in savings
  • between you
  • you live in the UK

How much Universal Credit you get depends on your earnings and your living situation and you will be assessed every month, so the amount may change.

The amount given out through Universal Credit was increased at the start of the pandemic by £20 per week. In March 2021, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced that this additional support would be extended until the end of September.

To find out more about Universal Credit, how to apply and the full eligibility criteria, visit Citizens Advice's website.

Working Tax Credit

Working Tax Credit is eligible for those who are on a low-income, however are working. It has been replaced by Universal Credit unless you are in receipt of the severe disability premium or got it in the past month and are still eligible for it.

For information on eligibility and how to apply, visit Gov.UK.

Young Carer Grant

You could get a yearly payment of £305.10 if you are 16, 17 or 18 years old and are

  • caring for someone in receipt of the middle or higher rates of Disability Living Allowance (DLA), Personal Independence Payment (PIP), Attendance Allowance or Armed Forces Independence Payment, 
  • caring for on average 16 hours per week, over a three month period, and 
  • not already in receipt of Carer’s Allowance. 

What you spend the money on is completely up to you.

If you care for someone for 35 hours a week or more, you may be eligible for Carer's Allowance which you can find information about further up this page.

We have a helpful page all about the Young Carer Grant, or you can visit the MyGovScot website for information and how to apply.

Visit our Young Carers page for more information about what support is available.

More information

If you are unsure of what other benefits are available, what benefits you may be eligible to receive, how much you could get and how long the process takes, you can visit the following links:

Remember, regardless of what benefits you may be entitled to at any one time, should your circumstances change, you must notify the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) as soon as possible.

The information in this article is accurate as of June 2020.

Head to the Adultgood campaign page for more information on adulting.