New rate will be introduced from April
Child poverty campaigners are hailing a victory after it was announced that the Scottish Child Payment is to be doubled.
Poverty Alliance, CPAG Scotland and Citizens Advice Scotland are among the groups who have campaigned hard for the uplift and they welcomed news the payment would increase to £20 a week from April.
The Scottish Government is aiming to expand the payment to all under-16s by the end of 2022, with more than 400,000 children and their families eligible.
Nicola Sturgeon said the move was "the boldest and most ambitious anti-poverty measure anywhere in the UK".
She told the SNP conference that it would involve "hard choices elsewhere in our budget", but said eradicating child poverty was "essential" to Scotland's future.
John Dickie, director of the Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland, said the move was "a hugely welcome development on the path to meeting Scotland’s child poverty targets".
He said: "This is a real lifeline for the families across Scotland who are facing a perfect storm of financial insecurity as the UK cut to Universal Credit bites, energy prices soar and the wider costs of living rise.
"We know that behind the statistics lie tens of thousands of families who are having to make impossible choices between paying the bills, putting food on the table or getting into debt.
"This poverty is causing untold stress and undermining children’s health, wellbeing and education. For them this breakthrough increase to the Scottish child payment cannot come soon enough."
Peter Kelly, director, Poverty Alliance, said the decision to double the benefit will loosen the grip of poverty on the lives of thousands of children in Scotland.
He added: “We, and so many others across Scotland, have been making clear the need to take this action, and we are delighted that the Scottish Government have listened and acted.
"Doubling the payment from April is the right and just thing to do, and will help to keep people afloat amid the rising tide of poverty that's sweeping across the country.
“It's a commitment that can help meet our national mission of ending child poverty, provided we build on this toward a Scotland where no child has to suffer the injustice of poverty.
“Today, we have taken a step toward that vision."
The Scottish Government said the uplift, which has become affordable after a £4.6 billion boost to Holyrood’s funding from the Treasury in last month’s UK budget, would cost £360 million a year.
Stephanie Millar, Citizens Advice Scotland social justice policy manager, said: “With families facing a perfect storm of rising bills and stagnant incomes, this is some good news coming next year, and something Citizens Advice Scotland and other organisations have been calling for.
“The payment will be lifeline for families struggling to keep their heads above the rising tide of poverty that threatens to sweep so many into destitution.
“The Citizens Advice network can help people struggling with money and bills. During the pandemic CABs unlocked around £147m for people and that money can be life changing.”