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[this is a icon-] A slice from a data cube dataset

Best Start Grant and Best Start Foods: Expenditure: a data cube slice

Expenditure for Best Start Grant (BSG) Pregnancy and Baby Payment, Early Learning Payment, School Age Payment and Best Start Foods Payment Contact email-

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Measure Type
  1. Count
Payment Type
  1. All
  2. Best Start Foods
  3. Early Learning
  4. Pregnancy and Baby
  5. School Age Payment
Reference Period
  1. 2018-12
  2. 2019-01
  3. 2019-02
  4. 2019-03
  5. 2019-04
  6. 2019-05
  7. 2019-06
  8. 2019-07
  9. 2019-08
  10. 2019-09
  11. 2019-10
  12. 2019-11
  13. 2019-12
  14. 2020-01
  15. 2020-02
  16. 2020-03
  17. 2020-04
  18. 2020-05
  19. 2020-06
  20. 2020-07
  21. 2020-08
  22. 2020-09
  23. 2020-10
  24. 2020-11
  25. 2020-12
  26. 2021-01
  27. 2021-02
Reference Area
(showing types of area available in these data)
  1. Countries
Entire dataset
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About the Dataset
Not supplied
Not supplied
In dataset
Next update due
July 2021

The Best Start Grant includes three types of payment: Pregnancy and Baby Payment (applications taken from 10 December 2018), Early Learning Payment (applications taken from 29 April 2019) and School Age Payment (applications taken from 3 June 2019).

Best Start Foods is a recurring four weekly pre-paid card payment, which replaced Healthy Start Vouchers for new claims in Scotland from 12 August 2019.

This dataset includes received applications and authorised applications (awards) for Best Start Grant Pregnancy and Baby Payment, Early Learning Payment, School Age Payment and Best Start Foods Payment. Statistics are provided for the last day of the month (e.g. figures for 2019-02 are for applications received or authorised as of 28 February 2019). ‘Ratio’ figures for applications authorised show the percentage of applications processed by the end of the month that had been authorised (not the percentage of applications received that had been authorised).

Further information on application, processing times, redeterminations and appeals can be found in the associated [publication(

Information on applications can be found in the Best Start Grant: Applications dataset.

Confidentiality Policy

Figures have been rounded to the nearest five for disclosure control. Some values are missing from this dataset. These values have been suppressed where they would disclose fewer than five applications.

Quality Management

The data used to produce these statistics are extracted from the Social Security case management system. Extracts from this system are also used on a daily basis for internal reporting within Social Security Scotland. As such, the data is checked daily for consistency with previous extracts (i.e. do applications, decisions and payments figures increase as expected over time, and are they in proportion to each other) and compared to other sources of information such as the number of payment instructions reported by the finance team.

Quality assurance and cleaning has been carried out on the variables used in the official statistics:

  • Checking for duplicate and missing application references

  • Checking application dates, processing times and payment times are within the expected ranges

  • Checking applicant and child dates of birth are within the expected ranges

  • Checking postcodes that do not match to local authorities

  • Checking payment values match to expected number of children

Once the data is aggregated and copied into the publication and supporting Excel tables, the final statistics are quality assured by a different member of the statistics team.

Accuracy and Reliability

1) Rounding and disclosure control

Application and outcome figures have been rounded to the nearest five for disclosure control. Data has been suppressed where it would disclose fewer than five applications.

2) Missing and duplicate applications

The data comes from 100% data cut of the case management system. The data cut contained a small proportion of applications where the fields relating to application date and the outcome and payment of the application were blank. These applications represent temporary ‘prospect cases’, which are created when clients contact Social Security Scotland without a National Insurance number, and are later replaced once a National Insurance number is received from the applicant. These applications are therefore duplicates and have been excluded from the statistics. Clients can make multiple applications for different components of Best Start Grant and Best Start Foods over time, or may make repeated applications for the same component, for example if their first application is denied. This means that there can be several applications in the data cut from the same client. For this publication we have retained all these applications.

3) Age and gender

In a small number of cases the date of birth of the child or the application date has been entered in the parent date of birth field in the case management system. In these cases the date of birth of the parent has been changed to ‘unknown’. Further dates of birth of the parent showed very young ages. For these applicants, we have assumed that the dates contained typographical errors and have classed age as ‘unknown’, although we cannot be certain that their date of birth contained an error. We are not currently able to provide figures on the gender of applicants.

4) Geography

Applications are assigned to local authority and health board by postcode using a Scottish Government lookup file. For some applications, the postcode will not match to the lookup file. This can be because the postcode is not in a Scottish local authority, or because the postcode has been introduced too recently to appear on the lookup file, for example if a property is in a new development. For postcodes that could not be matched to a Scottish local authority or health board, the postcode area was used to check whether the postcode was in Scotland or elsewhere. Non-matching postcodes from Scottish border postcode areas (postcodes starting ‘DG’ and ‘TD’) were also checked individually and assigned to Scottish local authorities or health boards or as ‘non-Scottish postcodes’ manually. Following these checks on postcodes, in this publication a very small number of applications (70, 0%) were made by people with Scottish postcodes that could not be matched to a local authority or health board. A very small proportion (555, 0%) did not include address information and therefore could not be matched to a local authority, health board or country. Figures for the applications that did not match to Scottish local authorities and health boards are provided in the official statistics publication tables.

Coherence and Comparability

DWP publish information about Sure Start Maternity Grant in the Social Fund annual report 2017 to 2018 at Great Britain level only.

DWP also publishes annual expenditure for Sure Start Maternity Grants at Great Britain level in their Benefit expenditure and caseload tables.

Key differences between any figures for Sure Start Maternity Grant and BSG Pregnancy and Baby Payment are:

  • Applicants can only apply for Sure Start Maternity Grant for their first child. No payments are made for subsequent children (with some exceptions for multiple births) whereas BSG Pregnancy and Baby Payments is applicable for first children and subsequent children.

  • Sure Start Maternity Grant payments are £500 for the first child, whereas BSG Pregnancy and Baby Payments are £600 for the first child, £300 for subsequent children and £300 for multiple births.

  • The Sure Start Maternity Grant application window is from 11 weeks before due date to 6 months after birth, whereas BSG Pregnancy and Baby is from 24th week of pregnancy to 6 months after birth.

  • Additionally, in 2018/19 it is possible that some applicants delayed applying for Sure Start Maternity Grant because they were aware that they could wait for the launch of Pregnancy and Baby Payments on 10 December. This would affect numbers of people applying for both Sure Start Maternity Grant and Pregnancy and Baby Payments in Scotland.

DWP does not have an equivalent of Early Learning Payment and School Age Payment.

The Department for Health and Social Care does not produce statistical publications covering the uptake of Healthy Start Vouchers in Scotland. However, management information on uptake has previously been published by the Scottish Government in a Freedom of Information response covering a 4 week period in 2018.

Accessibility and Clarity

Further information on application, processing times, redeterminations and appeals can be found in the associated publication.


The Scotland Act 2016 gives Scottish Parliament powers over a number of social security benefits which had been administered to Scottish claimants by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). Social Security Scotland are the executive agency of Scottish Government responsible for delivering social security benefits for Scotland under the Social Security Scotland Act 2018.

Further details about all Best Start Grant payments.

Timeliness and Punctuality

These statistics are updated every 3 months. These updates coincide with our quarterly publications on Best Start Grant and Best Start Foods applications and payments. These can be found at Data are collected, validated and published in as timely manner as possible in accordance with the Statistics Code of Practice. Data are published quarterly and can be found on the Scottish Government website.


Revisions and corrections to previously published statistics are dealt with in accordance with the Scottish Government Statistician Group corporate policy statement on revisions and corrections - a copy of which is available on the Scottish Government website.


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Dimension Locked Value
Reference Period
Payment Type
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Reference Area
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Measure Type
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