Using the Young Scot National Entitlement Card to support young people experiencing poverty

A young person smiles at the camera and the Young Scot logo towards the top right hand corner of the image.
Published: 20/03/2023

(March 2023) Guest speaker at the first Place Forum, Mary Cane from Young Scot, shared their story of how they support young people experiencing poverty with the Young Scot National Entitlement card. 

As Scotland’s national youth information and citizenship charity, we support young people to thrive and make the most of their lives as they grow up.  

We do this by providing universal services for young people, combined with targeted and bespoke support to address stigma, inequalities and inaccessibility.  

Supporting young people to thrive is a powerful way to provide reassurance in times of challenge, help build confidence and resilience, and, importantly, support them to have fun!  

Together with partners, we have engaged with young people in communities across Scotland to support inclusive place-based growth, increased community wellbeing and reduced child poverty.  

What is the Young Scot National Entitlement Card?

The Young Scot National Entitlement Card (Young Scot NEC) gives young people personalised enhanced entitlements, opportunities, incentives, and services in a non-stigmatising way. Using their Young Scot NEC, we continue to help young people and their families to maximise their incomes.  

In addition to local and national discounts, the Young Scot NEC offers young people access to free proof of age, participatory budgeting, Young Scot Rewards and bespoke entitlement packages for young people facing inequalities. These help to improve young people’s financial security, social connections and wellbeing.  

Young people’s experiences of the cost of living crisis

In late 2022, we developed a survey, together with young people, open to all aged 11–25-years-old living in Scotland to find out the direct impact of the cost of living crisis. This closed with over 1,000 responses with representation from all Local Authorities in Scotland.  

When asked if they have recently supported the people that they live with in a different way than they have before? Young people told us they are: 

“Putting off lights, wearing more clothes and asking before I buy things”  
(13, Glasgow)  

“I contribute more of the money I earn to the house voluntarily”  
(24, Orkney Islands) 

Working collaboratively with partners to improve young people’s lives

Since 2018, we have worked alongside the Scottish Government, local authorities, Transport Scotland, the Improvement Service and the National Entitlement Card Programme Office to help close the poverty-related attainment gap and improve the health and wellbeing on young people.  

We have worked with partners to use the Young Scot NEC to deliver smart entitlements to young people in a non-stigmatising way. Entitlements included:  

  • smart travel (prior to the launch of Under 22s Free Bus Travel Scheme)  

  • free access to leisure centres 

  • free meals in community and leisure centre cafes and school breakfasts  

Partners have also been able to use the functionality of our Young Scot Membership platform to bespoke rewards to targeted groups of young people. Rewards provide a way for young people to be rewarded for their contributions and achievements as well as access opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise be able to.  

If you’re interested in providing entitlements to young people in your area in a non-stigmatising way, please get in touch by emailing

Writer biography

Mary is a Smart Services Officer at Young Scot leading on their work with the Scottish Attainment Challenge and is committed to ensuring that all young people, no matter their circumstances, are able to access services and opportunities to thrive and have fun.  

Image credited to Young Scot

The power of place in child poverty and cost of living crisis

Find out more about our first Place Forum event and hear about the power of place and collaboration in child poverty and cost of living crisis.

Read event outputs