Quarter of Fife Best Start Grant applicants rejected

A Fife MSP is calling on the Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Social Security Shelly-Anne Somerville to investigate why one in four applications from Fifers for the Best Start Grant are being rejected.

Clare Baker, MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife, is concerned about the number of Fife applicants being rejected for the grant, which is supposed to help low income families who are expecting children.

The grant is a cash payment for parents and carers to help cover some of the costs of having children, such as clothing or a pram. It provides those eligible with £600 on the birth of their first child and £300 on the birth of any subsequent children.

Figures on applications from Fifers show that of the 1005 applications processed, 235 have been denied.

Miss Somerville suggested in Parliament that the denial rate could be down to applications from those not receiving the low-income benefits required for eligibility.

Miss Baker has welcomed the grant but says the rejected applications call for an investigation:

"While I welcome the Best Start grants as a positive step in supporting families in need, figures showing that one in four applications from Fife parents and carers are being refused are a matter of concern.

"With applications coming from those seeking financial support to purchase basic items, like baby clothing, it is very disappointing to see these turned down for 25% of applicants.

"If it is the case, as the Cabinet Secretary suggests, that people are wrongly applying for the grants then more needs to be done to ensure applicants are aware of the eligibility criteria.

"We need to make the process of application for those entitled to this support as straightforward and transparent as possible, so parents and carers applying for the Best Start grants can be confident funding will be available to them."

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