Benefits and debt advice

Help if you are responsible for a child

This guide outlines financial and other help for parents and carers looking after a child. We advise you to get a full benefit check to see exactly what you may be entitled to. Call us on 0131 200 2360 or email

Scottish Child Payment

This is a £26.70 per week payment from the Scottish Government for families with children under the age of 16 and on a low income who are in receipt of benefits such as

  • Universal Credit
  • Tax Credits
  • Income Support
  • Employment Support Allowance (IR)
  • Jobseekers Allowance (IB)
  • Pension credit with a child under the age of 6 years old.

To claim call 0800 182 2222 or find out more about Scottish Child Payment on the Scottish Government website.

Child Benefit

This is a universal payment for those with caring responsibilities for children under the age of 16 or 20 if in approved education or training. For the first child, you will receive a payment of £24 per week. More children bring a payment of £15.90 per week. There is no limit on how many children you can claim for.

Earning more than £50,000 will mean a Tax Charge applies.

Read more about Child Benefit on the UK Government website.

Best Start Grants

These grants help with the cost of being pregnant and having care of a child. Payment are made by the Scottish Government.

Parents or carers need to be on a low income. Those under 18 years old are automatically entitled to this payment even if they are not on benefits. People could still be eligible after their 18th birthday if Covid-19 meant that they couldn’t get their application in on time.

These grants provide up to 3 payments per child from pregnancy to when a child starts school. The ‘Pregnancy & Baby’, ‘Early Learning’ and ‘School Age’ payments could total £1100 for the first child.

Also a prepaid card is available that allow you to buy specific healthy food items during pregnancy and for children under 3 years old.

Find out more about Best Start Grant and Best Start Foods on the Scottish Government website.

Universal Credit (UC)

If you are claiming UC then an additional payment may be available if a child is in your household.

The amount will depend on

  • your child’s age
  • whether they have a disability
  • what other income you may have.

There are special arrangements for families with more than 2 children.

If claiming UC and working, there may be an allowance if responsible for a child.

Find out more and how to claim Universal Credit on the UK Government website.

Child Tax Credits

If you are already in receipt of Child Tax Credits (CTC) and then have another child you must tell CTC immediately. If you have more than 2 children you are unlikely to receive more assistance however there are exceptions. Please see

In rare cases a WTC claimant could become entitled to CTC for the first time.

A new claim for CTC can only be made if you are in receipt of either

  • Severe Disability Premium through Employment Support Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Jobseekers Allowance or Housing Benefit.

Find more information on Child Tax Credits and how make a claim on the UK government website.

Income Support (IS)

Existing Income Support claimants with a child under 5 can seek additional IS support if another child is born.

Child Disability Payment

This benefit is provided by the Scottish Government. It replaces Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for children which is provided by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP).

If you are currently in receipt of DLA for children you do not need to apply for Child Disability Payment. Social Security Scotland will transfer you over, they will contact you before it happens.

You can find more information and eligibility on Child Disability Payment on the Scottish Government website.

It is also important to consider future entitlement. For example, a baby with Downs Syndrome may not qualify until they start to show a delay in development and extra care needs.

Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP)/ Maternity Allowance (MA)

If you are pregnant check your SMP entitlement on the UK government website. Maternity Allowance may be payable if SMP is not applicable. You can check MA entitlement on the UK government website.

It is possible to get UC while in receipt of SMP but there is a dispute about whether how being in receipt of MA is accounted for if claiming UC. Get advice if there is any query about this area.

Housing Costs

The birth of a child could also mean a household is no longer ‘under-occupying’ (commonly known as Bedroom Tax) if they are renting from a housing association or the Council. You may get extra assistance with housing costs through UC or Housing Benefit.

Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) could be available for pregnant mothers who come under the Local Housing Allowance scheme and who won’t get the increased bedroom allowance until baby is born. Find out about DHP on the Council website.

Your benefits may be capped

A Benefit Cap puts a limit on the amount of benefit income a household can receive.

This mostly affects families with more than 2 children. Even if you are entitled to some of the benefits in this guide you may not receive everything.

Always check with an advisor to understand your entitlements. Read more about the Benefit Cap on the website.

Carers Allowance Supplement

An additional payment to those who are caring for someone and living on a low income. £270.50 paid to carers twice a year. Find out more on the Carers Allowance Supplement on the UK Government website.

Young Carer Grant

An annual payment of £359.65 for young carers aged 16-18 years old who are caring for someone an average 16 hours per week. Find out more about the Young Carer Grant on the UK Government website.

Read the online leaflet on about financial support for families. This leaflet may not be accessible. If you need help email

Free bus travel

People aged up to and including 21 years old are entitled to free bus travel which can be a significant help for many families and young people.