We have introduced new benefits to helping parents on low incomes.
- Best Start Grant Pregnancy and Baby Payment – one off payment of up to £600 from 24 weeks in pregnancy up until a baby reaches 6 months for families who get certain benefits.
- Best Start Grant Early Learning Payment – one off payment of £250 when a child is between two and three years and six months for families who get certain benefits.
- Best Start Grant School Age Payment – one off payment of £250 when a child would normally start primary one for families who get certain benefits.
- Best Start Foods – a prepaid card from pregnancy up to when a child turns three for families on certain benefits to help buy healthy food. with £600 on the birth of their first child and £300 on the birth of later children, to buy the pram or other big essentials they need.
Every baby in Scotland is entitled to receive a Baby Box. Based on the successful Finnish model, the box includes essential items for a baby’s first weeks and months and aims to tackle deprivation, improve health and support parents.
We have expanded access to IVF so that it is now the most generous in the UK. Patients referred for IVF treatment on the NHS in Scotland may now be eligible for three full cycles rather than two, increasing their chances of conceiving a baby. Families who have children in the home but where one parent has no biological children are now eligible too.
We introduced the £1.5 million Neonatal Expenses Fund to help parents of premature babies with the additional costs of their child being in hospital.
We’ve extended free vitamins to all pregnant women, helping improve the health of mothers and babies and are significantly expanding the Family Nurse Partnership (FNP), so that eligible first time mothers across the country can benefit from the programme.
We will develop and implement a Women’s Health Plan aiming to improve services and reduce health inequalities for women and girls. The plan will review midwifery and health visiting pathways for new families and babies, improving access to practical breastfeeding support, physical therapy advice and increased postpartum and mental wellbeing support. It will also ensure maternity departments have dedicated facilities for women who are experiencing unexpected pregnancy complications.
We will also substantially expand the range of perinatal support available to women. One in five women are affected by mental health problems during pregnancy or in the year after childbirth, and we want to transform the service that they receive – by providing more counselling support for less acute issues and better specialist support for moderate to acute problems.