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Benefits will be paid automatically to make system simpler, says minister

The changes to the benefit system will be made later this year (Jane Barlow/PA)
The changes to the benefit system will be made later this year (Jane Barlow/PA)

Certain benefits will be paid automatically to those who qualify in order to make the welfare system simpler, a Scottish Government minister has said.

Later this year, parents and carers who receive the Scottish Child Payment will automatically receive the Best Start Grant Early Learning and School Age Payments when their children become eligible.

Each of these payments are worth £250.

The change will be introduced later in 2022 when Scottish Child Payment is extended to under-16s and increased to £25 per child, per week.

Scottish Parliamentary Elections 2021
Ben Macpherson said the Government had ambitious plans (Lesley Martin/PA)

Earlier in April, the Scottish Child Payment was doubled to £20 per week per child, with about 104,000 children expected to benefit from the increase.

Social Security Minister Ben Macpherson said: “Tackling child poverty is a key mission for the Scottish Government and automating payments, where we already have all of the information we need to do so, will mean parents and carers automatically getting the financial support they are eligible for paid directly to them.

“Since launching Best Start Grant in December 2018, we’ve made more than 177,000 payments, totalling £55.3 million in support, to families who need it most. Automating payments, where we can, will enable us to help even more families.

“We are committed to making sure that receiving our five family payments is as straightforward as possible.

“Automatic awards, increasing Scottish Child Payment to £20, and again to £25 by the end of the year, and uprating eight Scottish benefits by 6% are some of the ways we are using our limited social security powers and resources to help families in need.”

On Tuesday, Mr Macpherson visited Fare Scotland, a charity which works with disadvantaged communities around central Scotland, in Easterhouse.

Jimmy Wilson, chief executive of Fare Scotland, said: “There are families who aren’t aware of all the benefits to which they’re entitled so anything that can be done to make the process simpler is to be welcomed.

“It’s more important than ever that people understand the help which is there for them.

“The advantages in having automatic awards could be significant.

“We hope this move has a positive impact on take-up rates which could help to reduce and prevent child poverty and support family wellbeing.”