The Scottish Child Payment will be doubled to £20 per week if the SNP are re-elected, Nicola Sturgeon has said.
The SNP leader said tackling child poverty should be a “driving mission” for the next parliament.
The benefit currently provides £10 a week to low-income families – initially those with children up to the age of six – and is set to expand to all children under the age of 16 by the end of next year.
But the First Minister confirmed her intention for this to be doubled to £20 per week, benefitting more than 400,000 children in 250,000 households.
And as part of further expansion, she will also propose payments are brought forward with affected families to receive “bridging payments” during 2022, with the full annual £520 being paid in four quarterly instalments.
She told SNP activists on Monday: “I want to make ending child poverty a driving mission for the next parliament.
“So, I can confirm that if we are re-elected on May 6, we will – over the course of the next term – increase the Scottish Child Payment from £10 per week for each eligible child to £20 per week.
“It’s time to end the scandal of child poverty and this will help do it.
“It is a down payment on what will be possible when we have the full powers over tax and social security that only independence can deliver.”
Scottish Labour leader, Anas Sarwar, said: “This is a key policy which Scottish Labour has been calling for, so I welcome the SNP’s support for our proposal.
“But they have been in power for 14 years. The First Minister has been in post for seven years.
“It shouldn’t have taken an election campaign for them to make the right choice for Scotland’s most vulnerable children.
“We have also frequently heard the SNP talking about national missions before choosing to prioritise the nationalist mission instead.
“The next parliament must prioritise a national recovery so that we can transform the lives of children across Scotland and end the scandal of child poverty.”
It comes after a coalition of Scottish organisations publish their manifesto detailing changes they believe are necessary “to create a more just Scottish social security system”.
The Scottish Campaign on Rights to Social Security (SCoRSS) manifesto also calls for the doubling of the Scottish Child Payment as well as increasing financial support for unpaid carers and establishing a fundamental review of disability assistance.
Debbie Horne, senior policy officer at Citizens Advice Scotland, said: “This election comes at a time when a properly functioning social security safety net has never been so important.
“Over the next five years Scotland has the chance to create a world-leading social security system.
“The next Scottish Parliament must seize this opportunity to fully implement the changes set out in the SCoRSS manifesto.”
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