FAMILIES on low incomes can from today apply for a new Scottish benefit to help cover the costs of a child starting school in August.

The School Age Payment will provide £250 per child in the year they enter primary one.

There will be no requirement to take up a place at school for families to be eligible for the payment.

The application process will be open until February 29 next year, with parents who have deferred school entry so that their child starts school in August 2020 also encouraged to apply in the current window.

The payment is part of the Best Start Grant, a package of three payments for families in receipt of eligible benefits – including Universal Credit, income support, housing benefit and tax credits – to help at key stages in a child’s life.

The package also includes the Pregnancy and Baby Payment, which has been open for applications since December 2018, and the Early Learning Payment, which launched in April.

Social Security Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said: “Covering the costs of a child starting school puts pressure on family finances, and we have created this new payment to help ease that burden, putting more money into the pockets of families at a time when they need it most.

“We are committed to doing all we can to make sure Scotland is the best place for a child to grow up.

“We want to increase financial support to families, bringing equality to children by giving them help towards a fairer start.

“We also want to encourage everyone who is entitled to a payment to apply, so will be working with services to promote the benefit to ensure as many people as possible are aware they can access additional support.”