Payment is now being distributed across Scotland
Poverty campaigners have welcomed the formal launch of the Scottish child payment.
The £10-per-week payment is part of the Scottish Government’s wider plans to tackle child poverty across the country and became payable from 15 February.
Parents and carers who receive other welfare support - such as Universal Credit - are able to apply for the payment for each child under the age of six, with the benefit being rolled out for all qualifying under-16s by 2022.
The cash will be given out a monthly basis beginning later this month once eligibility has been assessed.
The Scottish Government has revealed 77,000 applications had been received so far.
But if all 77,000 applications received are approved, it would still only account for 44.5% of the 173,000 children now estimated to be eligible by the Scottish Fiscal Commission.
John Dickie, director of the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) in Scotland, said the payment marked a hug step forward in the challenge to end child poverty.
He added: “We know from our work just how big a difference an extra £10 a week can make – helping put food on the table, pay the bills and ensure children are able to fully participate at school and in their communities.
“We described the payment as a game changer when it was first announced by the Scottish Government, and for many families the change will soon become very real.”
Dickie went on to urge the UK and Scottish governments to build on the new payment in the face of the increased financial challenges families are facing in the face of the covid pandemic.
“It’s now vital that government at every level build on this significant moment. The Westminster government needs to work with the Scottish government to invest in our children futures – starting by retaining the £20 uplift to universal credit and restoring the value of UK child benefit.
“Here in Scotland we need to see the value of the new payment doubled and roll out extended to the over fives as soon as possible.
“Only by building on the new payment as part of wider action to increase family incomes will we meet our child poverty targets.”
Social security secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said the government was “proactively promoting” the payment and had written to Universal Credit and HMRC tax credit databases who may be eligible, describing the response as “fantastic”.
She said: “We’ve had a great response and this is a very large number of applications.
“It will take time to work through these applications and I’d like to ask families for their patience while we work as quickly as we can to process these.
“The Scottish Child Payment is the most ambitious anti-poverty measure currently being undertaken anywhere in the UK.”