What Benefits Can I Claim in Scotland?

The information in this article is accurate as of September 2022.

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 £642.35 for your first child and £321.20 for any child that comes after your first. 

If you apply for twins and have no other children under 16, you'll get £1,284.75. If you apply for twins and have other children under 16, you'll get £963.60. If you have triplets, you'll get an extra £321.20 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 £267.65 for each child eligible.  

School Age Payment

When you need to apply for the School Age Payment depends on when your child was born. You can find out more about when you can apply here.

Usually, only one school age payment can be made for a child but this does not apply if you have become responsible for the child after someone else (who is not your partner) has received a payment. For example, you are caring for a child as a kinship carer and the child’s parent has previously received a school-age payment. You can apply if you are getting child benefit, universal credit or child benefit for the child, but can also apply in other situations where you are caring for the child, for example, if you are a kinship carer, guardian or you are adopting the child.

The School Age Payment is £267.65 for each eligible child.

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:

  • £18 every 4 weeks during pregnancy
  • £36 every 4 weeks from your child being born up until they're a 1 year old
  • £18 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.

Bridging Payments

Bridging payments were introduced in 2021 and are £130 payments paid quarterly (every three months, or four times a year) by councils on behalf of the Scottish Government. All young people registered to receive free school meals, as part of low-income families, are eligible and will receive this payment automatically.

The final quarterly Bridging Payment of 2022, due in December, will be doubled to £260, meaning families will receive up to £650 per eligible child this year.

Find out more 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
  • Child Disability Payment - the middle or highest care rate
  • Adult Disability Payment - daily living component

You could get £69.70 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 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 2022 the rate will be £245.70 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 is able to claim Child Benefit.

For your eldest or only child, you will receive £21.80 per week. If you have additional children you will receive £14.45 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 Benefits 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.

Child Disability Payment

This benefit from Social Security Scotland helps with the extra costs that a disabled child might have.

You can apply for Child Disability Payment for a disabled child under 16 and it will be paid until they are 18. The disability can be mental or physical.

If your child does not have a diagnosis, you can still apply. In these cases, you should give information about how they're affected and any symptoms they may have.

Child Disability Payment is tax-free and made up of 2 components:

  • care
  • mobility

Children:

  • over 3 months old may qualify for the care component
  • over 3 years old may qualify for the mobility component

How much you receive will depend on the needs of the child. For the care component there are three tiers of payment:

  • Lowest - £24.45 per week
  • Middle - £61.85 per week
  • Highest - £92.40 per week

For the mobility component there are two tiers of payment:

  • Lowest - £24.45
  • Highest - £64.50

Find more information about the Child Disability Payment and how to apply on mygov.scot.

Cost of Living Payment

The Cost of Living payment is a one-off payment given in two parts to those on a low income.

You may be able to get £650 if you get:

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

Disability Cost of Living Payment

There is also a Disability Cost of Living payment.

You may get a payment of £150 if you get any of these:

  • Adult Disability Payment
  • Child Disability Payment
  • Armed Forces Independence Payment
  • Attendance Allowance
  • Constant Attendance Allowance
  • Disability Living Allowance for adults
  • Disability Living Allowance for children
  • Personal Independence Payment
  • War Pension Mobility Supplement

If you qualify you’ll get the payments automatically. You do not need to apply. You'll get paid the same way as your benefit or tax credit.

Find out more about eligibility for the Cost of Living Payment and what to do if you think you need to contact someone about a missing payment on the Scottish Government's website.

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 your 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 £24.45 and £92.40 a week of DLA depending on the level of support 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.

EMA is a weekly payment of £30, paid every 2 weeks in arrears.

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 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 depending 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.

Energy Bill Discounts & Grants

Substantial increases in energy bills have been announced in the last year, and there is a package of support available for families in Scotland struggling to keep up with the cost of gas and electricity.

Energy Bills Support Scheme

The Energy Bills Support Scheme is a one-off payment of £400 automatically added to every Scottish household's energy account, or given in vouchers for those with prepayment meters. The payments will begin in October 2022 over a period of six months.

Benefits

There are some additional benefits available for those most vulnerable and who already receive certain other benefits. These include:

  • Home Heating Support Fund
  • Low income Winter Heating Assistance
  • Winter Fuel Payment

Grants

There are also some charities offering support with grants to help pay energy costs.

There are specific grants for people whose suppliers are Scottish Power, Ovo Energy and E.ON, as well as others, but there is also a British Gas grant that anyone can apply for, even if you're not a British Gas customer.

You can find out all of the information on applying or claiming any one of the benefits or grants listed above by visiting Citizen's Advice Scotland's handy guide.

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 £18.55 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 have reached State Pension age
  • you’re in supported, sheltered or temporary housing

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.

ILF Scotland Transition Fund

If you are between 16 and 25 years old with a disability or impairment, you can apply for a grant of up to £4000 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

This is just a short list of examples.

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.

Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA)

There is a 'new style' Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA) benefit available, which can be claimed with, or instead of, Universal Credit.

To claim, you will need to have both:

  • worked as an employee
  • paid Class 1 National Insurance contributions, usually in the last 2 to 3 years (National Insurance credits can also count)

You will not be eligible if you were self-employed and only paid Class 2 National Insurance contributions, unless you were working as a share fisherman or a volunteer development worker.

You’ll also need to:

  • be 18 or over (there are some exceptions if you’re 16 or 17 - contact Jobcentre Plus for advice)
  • be under the State Pension age
  • not be in full-time education
  • be available for work
  • not be working at the moment, or be working less than 16 hours per week on average
  • not have an illness or disability which stops you from working
  • live in England, Scotland or Wales
  • have the right to work in the UK

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

Claiming 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 claim Gov.UK's website.

Job Start Payment

Starting a new job? You could get a one-off payment of £252.50, or the higher rate of £404 if you're the main carer of any children.

You are eligible if:

  • you have been living in Scotland on the day you were offered the job
  • you are aged 16-24
  • you have been offered a job in the last 3 months
  • you have not received Job Start Payment within the last 2 years
  • you 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.

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.

Personal Independence Payment (PIP)

Personal Independence Payment (PIP) is a newer replacement for 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:

  • you have a long-term physical or mental health condition or disability
  • you have difficulty doing certain everyday tasks or getting around
  • you expect the difficulties to last for at least 12 months from when they started

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).

Personal Independence Payment (PIP) is made up of 2 parts - a daily living part and a mobility part. Whether you get one or both of these and how much you’ll get depends on how severely your condition affects you.

Daily living part

The weekly rate for the daily living part of PIP is either £61.85 or £92.40.

Mobility part

The weekly rate for the mobility part of PIP is either £24.45 or £64.50.

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 Child Payment

The Scottish Child Payment is a weekly payment of £20 that families can get for every child who's under 6 years of age.

A payment is made every 4 weeks.

In September 2022, as part of the Programme of Goverment, the First Minister announced that this payment would be increased to £25 per child, per week, and that the age limit would be increased for any young person aged under 16. This change will take effect from 14th November 2022.

Current Eligibility

You, or your parent, carer or guardian, may be able to get Scottish Child Payment if you or they are:

  • living in Scotland
  • getting certain benefits or payments (such as Universal Credit, Income Support or Employment and Support Allowance)
  • the person applying is the main person looking after a child who's under 6 years old

Find out more about the Scottish Child Payment on the Scottish Government's 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 currently get any of these benefits, you do not need to do anything unless:

  • you have a change of circumstances you need to report
  • the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) contacts you about moving to Universal Credit

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.

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

Working Tax Credit

You can only make a claim for Working Tax Credit if you already get Child Tax Credit. If you cannot apply for Working Tax Credit, you can apply for Universal Credit instead.

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

Young Carer Grant

You could get a yearly payment of £326.65 if you are a 16, 17 or 18 year old in Scotland and are:

  • caring for 1, 2 or 3 people,
  • caring for on average 16 hours per week, for at least the last 3 months (if you care for more than 1 person you can count the total hours caring towards your average), and 
  • not already in receipt of Carer’s Allowance. 

The person(s) you are caring for must be in receipt of one of these benefits for at least the last 3 months:

  • the daily living component of Personal Independence Payment (PIP),
  • the middle or highest care rate of Disability Living Allowance (DLA), including Child Disability Living Allowance,
  • the middle or highest care rate of Child Disability Payment,
  • Attendance Allowance,
  • Armed Forces Independence Payment,
  • Constant Attendance Allowance.

If a person you care for gets Constant Attendance Allowance, they need to be getting either:

  • Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit (at or above the normal maximum rate), or
  • War Disablement Pension (at the basic rate)

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.

Young Patients Family Fund

This has replaced the Neonatal Expenses Fund (NEF).

If you're the parent, primary carer or sibling (aged under 18) of a young inpatient under the age of 18 receiving hospital care, you can claim for the costs of travel and food. An inpatient is a patient who lives in a hospital while having treatment. You cannot claim costs for outpatient visits through the scheme.

You must normally live in Scotland and must make the claim from the Young Patients Family Fund within 3 months of the young inpatient being discharged from hospital.

Find out more about what you can get reimbursed for and make a claim on mygov.scot.

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.

For more information about the cost crisis, visit our dedicated page on Coping With the Cost Crisis.

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