Low-earning families in Scotland are set for a payout of £320 in the coming months, under Scottish Government plans.
Speaking ahead of a debate on Thursday, social justice secretary Shona Robison estimated the money would reach the families of 148,000 children.
The bridging payments, as they have been described, will see two cash payouts of £160 per child sent to families in receipt of free school meals in October and December.
The Scottish Government has already supplied two similar £100 payments this year, while the new scheme – administered by Social Security Scotland – is being rolled out.
The initiative was devised in lieu of the extension of the Scottish Child Payment, which will be available to all eligible families with a child under 16 from next year and, as pledged by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, will be doubled to £20 “as early within the life of this parliament as possible”.
Robison said: “We are determined to build a better future for Scotland’s children and we know how important these payments will be to families in need this winter – particularly with rising fuel bills and Christmas just around the corner.
“Together the Scottish Child Payment and bridging payments will put an estimated £130 million in the pockets of low-income families this year, providing support as we recover from the pandemic.
“Scottish Child Payment is already the most ambitious anti-poverty measure currently being undertaken anywhere in the UK and we have committed to doubling it to £20-a-week per child as soon as possible in this parliamentary term.”
Four more bridging payments are planned for next year, to coincide with the start of school holidays.
While Gail Macgregor, the resources spokeswoman for local authority body Cosla, said: “Councils are pleased to be able to ensure that eligible low income families have access to an additional £520 this year and next through these bridging payments.
“It is important families who have been hardest hit by the pandemic have these vital additional funds as we move forward with the challenging recovery process.
“This demonstrates how local government can reach in and support families in our communities.”