THE first payments have been made under a new scheme set up to help survivors of childhood abuse in care who are elderly or terminally ill.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney announced details of the £10,000 advance payments three weeks ago – saying then that the move was a “significant milestone in our endeavours to do what we can to address the wrongs of the past”.

Since then five of the payments – which are being awarded while the Scottish Government continues to work on a statutory redress scheme for survivors of in-care abuse – have been made.

Those who suffered abuse in care prior to December 2004, and who are aged 70 or over, or who are terminally ill, are eligible for a flat rate payment under the scheme.

A dedicated phone line set up to help abuse survivors apply for the money has taken about 150 calls, with more than 100 application packs also sent out.

Swinney said: “I am pleased that five payments have already been approved under the Advance Payment Scheme in such a short space of time, with a further 36 applications currently being considered.”

He added: “While nothing can take away the pain that individuals have suffered, the payments are recognition of the harm done to children who were abused while in care in Scotland. We put in place a simple yet robust application process and are focused on helping survivors and their families throughout the process.”

The Advance Payment Scheme, which has a potential fund of £10 million, was set up by the Scottish government to compensate terminally ill or survivors aged 70 or over ahead of a wider payment scheme that is due to open in 2021. It was launched after some survivors died before getting justice. The payments have been made after many years of campaigning for justice by former residents of children’s homes who experienced abuse .

A public inquiry led by Lady Smith was set up in 2015 into the abuse of children in institutional care including by religious orders, as well as council run-children’s homes and secure care. The inquiry is ongoing and has completed three phases. The third phase heard evidence relating to investigations into residential child care establishments, such as Quarriers and Barnardo’s, run by secular and voluntary organisations.

The next phase will focus on cases of alleged abuse at residential care establishments run by male religious orders, including Fort Augustus Abbey school, on Loch Ness, which was run by the Benedictines.

Phase five, later this year, will look at abuse in child migration programmes when children were sent from Scotland to Australia and Canada.

The inquiry could require Scottish Government ministers as well as former ministers and civil servants to give evidence.