Around 5,000 families in Scotland will benefit from the extension of the Child Winter Heating Assistance welfare payment, a minister has said.
The Scottish Government is extending eligibility for the annual £202 payment to children between 16 and 18, meaning around 19,000 families will receive it overall.
The devolved benefit is designed to help with winter heating costs for those with the most severely disabled children, some of whom will need to heat their homes overnight.
Social security minister Ben Macpherson spoke to Holyrood about the extension of the benefit on Thursday.
He said that earlier this year, two claimants raised appeals after they were determined ineligible for the payment as they had turned 16.
Mr Macpherson said this prompted a rethink from the Government, with eligibility now going up to age 18.
He said: “This year’s payment will reach approximately an additional 5,000 clients, taking the total number to over 19,000.
“With energy prices currently raising substantially, this is an important step in our efforts collectively to support some of society’s most vulnerable people.”
The Child Winter Heating Assistance payment is available to those who receive the highest level of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) assistance.
Scottish Conservative MSP Jeremy Balfour asked if the payment could be given for any child receiving DLA.
Mr Macpherson said the benefit is intended to help families with the most severely disabled children and young people, and the highest-rate DLA payment is a “reasonable proxy” for identifying them.
He said: “I think it’s important to recognise that we are the only part of the UK to do this.”