A “game-changing” new benefit payment for families with children under six will open for applications from November, Communities Secretary Aileen Campbell has said.
The Scottish Child Payment, which provides £10 per week per child to eligible low-income families, will start paying out at the end of February.
Ms Campbell said development of the benefit had been delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
She announced the timeframe for applications during an update to the Scottish Parliament on the Scottish Government’s efforts to tackle child poverty.
Her report said: “We will deliver our new Scottish Child Payment for households with an eligible child under six – called ‘game-changing’ when it comes to tackling child poverty and needed all the more now.
“In this report we confirm our aim to open to applications in November 2020 and for the first payments to be made to eligible families from the end of February 2021.
“Together with the support already in place through Best Start Grant and Best Start Foods, this offers families on low incomes over £5,200 of financial support by the time their first child turns six.”
Ms Campbell continued: “Importantly, we have not placed arbitrary limits on the number of children who can be supported and will make up to £4,900 available for second and subsequent children.”
She also announced an additional £2.35 million to help parents find employment, including £1 million for disabled parents.
Updating MSPs on the progress against child poverty targets, she said that during the 2018/19 period almost a quarter of Scottish children were living in poverty, a figure she described as “absolutely unacceptable”.
Scottish Conservative MSP Jeremy Balfour said there was a two-month delay from when the Scottish Child Payment was originally planned to come into effect and asked if other benefits could be increased to make up for this.
The Communities Secretary said: “Some of these things, in explanation, are technically very difficult and it’s not possible to do some of those things.
“But I would also point to the fact that we’ve doubled the Scottish Welfare Fund, there are ways we are trying to endeavour to support people financially through the progress of this pandemic.”
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