The Scottish Child Payment will be doubled to £20 per week from April 2022, Nicola Sturgeon has announced.
The First Minister confirmed the move on Monday in a keynote speech to the SNP conference.
She said next week’s Budget will include a £10 increase of the weekly benefit, which supports low-income families with children aged under six.
First introduced in February 2021 as a £10 per week payment designed to tackle child poverty, it provides regular, additional financial support for eligible families.
The benefit, which is unique in the UK, will be fully rolled out to children under the age of 16 by the end of 2022, subject to data on qualifying benefits being received from the Department of Work and Pensions.
It is expected more than 400,000 children could be eligible for the doubled payment from that point.
From 2023/24, it will represent an annual investment in tackling child poverty of around £360m a year.
The First Minister, who credited the coalition with the Scottish Greens for “achieving this as quickly as possible”, said the Scottish Child Payment is the “boldest and most ambitious anti-poverty measure anywhere in the UK”.
However, she warned that the decision will cause “hard choices elsewhere in our Budget”.
The FM said: “The Scottish Government is determined to lift children out of poverty.
“This is the boldest and most ambitious anti-poverty measure anywhere in the UK. Delivering it isn’t easy. It will involve hard choices elsewhere in our budget. But it is a choice we are opting to make.
“Eradicating child poverty is essential if we are to build the strongest foundation for Scotland’s future. And that is what we are determined to do.”
Chris Birt, Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s associate director for Scotland, said it was welcome news and would provide vital support to families with young children following “what is expected to be a challenging winter as the cost of living continues to rise”.
He added: “Doubling the payment for older children cannot come soon enough.
“As we noted in our Poverty in Scotland report, this investment alone will not be enough to meet the interim child poverty targets, but it is an important step in the right direction and will make a real difference to families.”