A new Social Security Scotland benefit for low income families has opened for applications.

The £250 School Age Payment is for families with a child old enough to start primary school this August.

It comprises the third stage 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.

Applications will remain open until 29 February 2020, for families whose child was born between 1 March 2014 and 28 February 2015. There is no requirement to take up a place at school to be eligible for the payment, and parents who have deferred school entry so their children will start school in August 2020 should still apply in the 3 June to 29 February window.

Social Security Scotland is using a single application process for the Best Start Grant payments. Applications can be made online, over the phone or by post. Parents and carers will be eligible if they live in Scotland, are responsible for a child and receive one of the qualifying benefits.

Social Security Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville commented: "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."

She added: "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 this new additional support."