EXPECTANT parents in the Borders have received a total £55,200 under a new Scottish Government initiative.

160 applications for the Pregnancy and Baby Payment were authorised in the Borders between December 10, 2018 and February 28, 2019.

This payment is part of the Scottish Government’s new Best Start Grant package, with payments for low income families provided at key stages of a child’s development.

Under the Pregnancy and Baby payment £600 is provided for a first child and £300 for any siblings thereafter.

A total of 9,700 families across Scotland received a Scottish Government Best Start Grant Pregnancy and Baby Payment during the first three months of the scheme’s rollout.

Shirley-Anne Somerville, Cabinet Secretary for Social Security, said: “I am committed to making sure that every child gets the support they need to have the best start in life.

“The huge take-up of this new benefit in its first three months highlights just what can be achieved when you design a service with the people who will actually use it.

“In doing so, we have simplified the application process and offered multiple ways to apply.

“We have found out where we need to promote the payment and who we need to work with – including health and childcare professionals - to make sure that people know that they are entitled.

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

David Wallace, Social Security Scotland Chief Executive, said: “Pregnancy and Baby Payment is the first payment that we launched that required people to apply.

“I am delighted with the take up of this so far and to see people applying from all over the country.

“We are not complacent though and we will continue to promote these benefits through communications, marketing and the local face to face service that we are starting to set up to make sure that everyone who is entitled to this support knows about it and applies.

“The Scottish Government sees social security as people’s human right and it is part of our responsibility to deliver a service that enables people to access and exercise this right.”