NICOLA Sturgeon has urged families to check if they are eligible for the Scottish Child Payment now that it has been extended.

The First Minister encouraged those living in Scotland to assess if they qualify for the benefit as it was increased to £25 per week and expanded to include eligible children up to age 16.

The payment, which has been hailed as a “life saver'' by charity bosses, launched in February 2021 at £10 per week per child under the age of six, but has now been significantly expanded to help those on low incomes cope with the cost of living crisis.

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It comes after numerous child poverty campaigners hailed the “watershed moment” of the benefit expansion and demanded UK Government ministers “take notice” of the Scotland-only payment.

An estimated 104,000 children in receipt of the payment will automatically see it increase to the new £25 rate - a 150% increase within eight months.

Following the widening out of the payment to under 16s, it has been forecast a further 300,000 children across the country will be eligible.

On a visit to Golfhill Primary and Whitehill Secondary schools at their shared campus in Dennistoun, Glasgow, the FM said: “This is an important day for many families across Scotland as we make significant extra financial support available to tackle child poverty.

"The Scottish Child Payment is unique to Scotland and is the most ambitious child poverty reduction measure in the UK.

“At a time when the cost of living crisis is causing significant hardship for many families, this increased payment of £1300 per eligible child is even more vital, and the age extension means that it is now available to many more children.

“We want to make sure that everyone gets the help available to them. Parents or carers who are on universal credit or other benefits and who have children under 16 should check through Social Security Scotland if they are eligible.”

John Dickie, Director of Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) in Scotland, said: “The roll-out of the Scottish Child Payment to over fives and the increase in its value to £25 a week marks a hugely welcome day for struggling families across Scotland and a real step on the road toward ending child poverty.

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“This is a significant and uniquely Scottish boost to family incomes at a time when it is needed more than ever. It’s now vital that we all spread the word as widely as possible and ensure that all eligible families apply and every child that is entitled benefits.”

Maggie Chapman MSP, Scottish Greens social security spokesperson, said: “The Scottish Child Payment is one of the most positive and progressive changes that we have seen since devolution.

"Its expansion is a major step for tackling poverty in Scotland.

“It is putting money into the pockets of families and making a difference to parents and children all over Scotland.

"Whether it is extra money for essentials like food and nappies or allowing them to go for days out that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to, this payment is an important part of our work to support families in Scotland.

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“It stands in stark contrast to the cruel approach we have seen from the Tory government in Westminster, which cut Universal Credit during a pandemic and has inflicted the worst cost crisis for a generation.

“The system that we are building in Scotland is much fairer and more humane than the brutal austerity of Westminster."

We previously told how the Joseph Rowntree Foundation said if the Scottish Child Payment scheme was replicated across the rest of the UK, 5.3 million youngsters in England, Wales and Northern Ireland could benefit.

Chris Birt, associate director for the think tank in Scotland, said the benefit should show the UK Government that “prioritising those on low incomes is possible”.