Low-income families to received £10-a-week child payments

The payments will come into effect from next Christmas.
The payments will come into effect from next Christmas.
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A new £10 a week payment that could be a "game-changer" for poorer families will be in place by Christmas 2020, the Scottish Government has pledged.

Ministers had previously promised to introduce a scheme to help cash-strapped parents by 2021 as part of efforts to cut child poverty.

But Social Security Minister Shirley-Anne Somerville confirmed the new Scottish Child Payment - which will initially be made to low-income families with a child aged six or less - will open for applications in the autumn of 2020.

Families should then start receiving payments before Christmas that year, the Scottish Government said.

The scheme will then be fully rolled out to children up to and including the age of 16 by 2022, with some 410,000 youngsters benefiting by then.

The extra money, which amounts to more than £500 a year for each child, will help lift 30,000 children out of poverty, the Scottish Government has calculated.

Ms Somerville said: "Scotland is facing a spike in child poverty as a result of welfare cuts imposed by the UK Government but this new payment is a game changer for families on low incomes.

"It will mean more families are able to make ends meet and there is no cap in the number of eligible children per family.

"I am delighted that as part of the Programme for Government we have been able to confirm that the payment for under sixes can now be introduced even earlier than planned.

"This will ensure we are able to get more money into the pockets of low income families sooner than we originally intended."

Ms Somerville spoke as she met mothers and their children at the Stepping Stones charity in Edinburgh, where young families and mothers to be can access support services.

She said: "The families I've met in Pilton this morning have told me the payment will make a massive difference to them - it will help them get by each month, enabling them to buy necessities."

Mhoraig Green, of Citizens Advice Scotland, welcomed the fast-tracking of the new payments, saying the move was "an important acknowledgement of the urgent need to take action against the rising tides of poverty that we are seeing in communities across Scotland".

She added: "Figures released from Citizens Advice Scotland just last week show that one in four working people are struggling on their present salary.

"Policymakers need to ensure money is getting into the pockets of people who need it the most.

"It is vital that families who are entitled to this benefit claim it and everything else that they are due."