A new payment being brought in by the Scottish Government to tackle child poverty will help families struggling during the coronavirus pandemic, Nicola Sturgeon said.
The First Minister spoke about the funding as it was announced people will be able to apply for the new Scottish Child Payment from Monday.
The scheme will eventually pay £10 a week to eligible families for each child they have under the age of 16.
It was due to be up and running by the end of this year but was delayed because of coronavirus, with payments now due to start being made in February 2021.
Initially families with children under the age of six are asked to apply, with payments fully rolled out by the end of 2022.
Sturgeon said: “This will be a valuable source of additional support for all eligible families, that includes many who are struggling right now as a direct result of the pandemic.”
“The Scottish Child Payment is the most ambitious anti-poverty measure currently being undertaken anywhere in the UK.”Shirley-Anne Somerville, social security secretary
Social security secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said the Scottish Government is expecting demand for the new payment to be “significant”.
She said: “The Scottish Child Payment is the most ambitious anti-poverty measure currently being undertaken anywhere in the UK.
“We are expecting a significant demand for this new payment so are opening applications early from Monday November 9 and will make the first payments in around 15 weeks.
“A great deal of effort has gone into creating this payment – including overcoming the impact of coronavirus on plans and work schedules to ensure we get money to the families who need it.”
She added: “I encourage all parents and carers who may be eligible to apply now and am asking families to help us by getting their applications in early so that we can process and start making payments as quickly as possible once the benefit starts in February next year.
“Significantly, more families are now relying on benefits due to the events of this year – some perhaps for the first time – and this payment will help lift children in Scotland out of poverty.”
Paul Carberry, the director of Action for Children Scotland, said the organisation sees “the effects of child poverty every day and the impact it has on many of the children and families whom we support, care for and work with”.
He added: “One simple act to help reduce child poverty is by putting money in the pockets of parents.
“The Scottish Child Payment can ease the struggle some families face in providing the basics and necessities of life.
“The impacts of poverty are profound for Scotland’s children, from poor mental and physical health and wellbeing to poor performance at school.
“The Scottish Child Payment will offer vital financial support for children, young people and their families.
“It can give back choice and dignity. We urge all eligible families to apply for this.”