A £100 million Scottish Government fund has been described by poverty campaigners as a “lifeline” for struggling families over winter.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced the cash in her speech to the SNP conference on Monday.
Part of it will go towards £100 payments to families with children who receive free school meals.
The payments will be made as cash grants, allowing recipients to decide what they will be spent on.
“Families will know best what they need,” the First Minister said.
“That’s not for government to decide.”
John Dickie, the director of the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG), said: “This will be a hugely welcome lifeline for the tens of thousands of families across Scotland who have been hammered by the economic impact of coronavirus.
“It starts to build the bridge that is needed to prevent families from going under before the full roll out of the Scottish Child Payment in 2022.
“It comes when families have faced a year of increased costs and falling incomes as a result of the pandemic with far, far too many forced to rely on foodbanks and charity hardship funds.”
Mr Dickie called for the UK Government to provide its own funding boost for families struggling during the pandemic.
“It is now vital that the UK Government comes forward with its own boost to protect increasingly fragile family finances,” he said.
“The £20 uplift to the Universal Credit standard allowance needs to be made permanent as a matter of utmost urgency, backed up with increases to children’s benefits and an end to the insidious two child limit and benefit cap.
“Only with action at every level of government can children be properly protect from the economic impact of the virus.”
The Scottish Government support will also used to provide courses for older people in the use of digital technology, as well as help with fuel bills.
“Initiatives like this are not just about providing practical help to those who need it most”, Ms Sturgeon told delegates at her party’s conference.
“They are an expression of our values and of the kind of country we are seeking to build.
“A more equal Scotland where we look out for each other in a spirit of solidarity and compassion.”
Support The Courier today.
The Courier is committed to delivering quality content to our communities and right now that’s more important than ever — which is why our key content is free. However, you can support us and access premium content by subscribing to The Courier from just £5.99 a month. Because Local Matters.Subscribe