Nicola Sturgeon has announced every family in Scotland who are eligible for free school meals, will receive a £100 direct payment in time for Christmas. This news will come as a welcome relief to those worried about being able to afford to feed their children over the school Christmas holidays.
This initiative will cost an estimated £16m and will help over 156,000 children over the festive period. It is hoped this payment will bridge the gap between Christmas and the introduction of the new Scottish Child Payment benefit which will be launched early next year.
The Scottish Child Payment will be available from mid-February, and gives parents of children under the age of six, an additional £10 per child per week, helping to alleviate growing levels of child poverty.
This financial boost forms part of a £100 million winter support package, designed to help those families and individuals who are most in need across Scotland, including those on low incomes, children, and individuals at risk of homelessness, domestic abuse, and digital exclusion.
Local authorities who have been placed under COVID-19 protection level 4, will also receive £15m worth of flexible funding which is to be spent helping those most affected by the pandemic, providing money for food and other essentials.
Of the initiative, First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, commented:
“We will shortly become the only part of the UK to give low-income families an extra £10 per week for every child - initially for children up to age 6 and then for every child up to age 16.
“This has been described as a game changer in the fight to end child poverty. The first payments will be made in February, but I know that for families struggling now, February is still a long way off.
“So I am announcing a £100m package to help others struggling most with the impact of COVID over the winter months.
“It will provide a cash grant of £100 for every family with children in receipt of free school meals.
“The money will be paid before Christmas and families can use it for whatever will help them through the winter.
“That could be food, new shoes or a winter coat for the kids. Families will know best what they need - that’s not for government to decide.
“Initiatives like this are not just about providing practical help to those who need it most - they are an expression of our values and of the kind of country we are seeking to build.”
Any increases to energy bills of £10 per month or more would push close to seven million UK households into debt.
A Scottish charity has called for the government to change some of its rules around Universal Credit (UC) payments to help people avoid falling into debt they’ll struggle to get out of.
Our Scottish based team can help advise you on your debt problems.