The Scottish Child Payment will be doubled to £20 per week per child from April 2022.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed that more than 105,000 children will immediately benefit from the increased payment, which supports low income families with children aged under 6.
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 over 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 £360 million a year. The increase to £20 per week further underlines the Scottish Government’s national mission to tackle child poverty.
The First Minister said:
“The Scottish Government is determined to lift children out of poverty.
“Of the £2 billion a year that the Scottish Government invests to support people on low incomes, over £670 million is already targeted at children. Through the range of new payments delivered by Social Security Scotland, low income families receive, in the early years of each child’s life, £5,000 of additional financial support.
“At the heart of this is the Scottish Child Payment – the only payment of its kind anywhere in the UK, designed solely to lift children out of poverty and give them better lives. The £10 per week payment for eligible children under age 6 will be extended to all eligible children under 16 at the end of 2022; and we committed to doubling the payment to £20 per child per week within this Parliamentary term.
“I am proud that our budget will confirm that we will double the Scottish Child Payment from the start of the new financial year. This increase to £20 per child per week will reach over 105,000 children under age 6 in just four months’ time. When we extend the Scottish Child Payment to all under 16s at the end of next year, over 400,000 children and their families will be eligible.
“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.”
Scottish Government Minister and Scottish Green Party Co-Leader Patrick Harvie said:
“With rising inflation, energy costs and the recent UK Government cuts to Universal Credit, further action to tackle child poverty could not have been more urgent. I’m therefore delighted that the Scottish Government has been able to double the Scottish Child Payment from April, just months after our policy of free bus travel for children and young people goes live.
“These bold actions deliver on key commitments made in the cooperation deal between the Scottish Government and the Scottish Green Party, and will make a real difference to families across Scotland.”
Social Security Scotland delivers a number of benefits for families. These include Best Start Grant Pregnancy and Baby Payment, Early Learning Payment, School Age Payment and Best Start Foods. The newly doubled Scottish Child Payment, together with the three Best Start Grant payments and Best Start Foods, could give families up to £8,400 by the time their first child turns 6.
Ahead of extending the Scottish Child Payment to under 16s, the Scottish Government introduced bridging payments worth £520 a year which are being paid in 2021 and 2022 to provide immediate support to around 145,000 children and young people of school age.
The Scottish Government committed to introducing the Scottish Child Payment in June 2019 as part of the Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan.
Around 400,000 children under 16 are expected to be eligible for the Scottish Child Payment when it is extended, with an anticipated take-up of over 300,000. Expenditure is expected to be around £360 million in the first full financial year, 2023/24. This can change depending on take-up of the benefit and the Scottish Government has a duty to encourage benefit take-up.
Almost 60 per cent of all children in poverty in Scotland live in a family where a child is under 6.