FINANCIAL support for poorer parents will more than double from summer 2019 when the first new Scottish benefit starts being paid, Social Security Secretary Angela Constance has said.

Qualifying families will receive £1100 for their first child under the best start grant, with the money split into three payments which will be made before children start primary school. Extra grants will also be paid out after the birth of any subsequent children – with Constance saying the Scottish Government will “make no judgement on the number of children people decide to have”.

While the UK Government has brought in a two-child limit for tax credits, Holyrood’s Social Security Secretary said: “We will place no limit on the number of children we help in any qualifying family.”

Constance announced the first benefit payments that will be made following the devolution of some welfare powers to the Scottish Parliament.

The best start grant – which replaces the one-off £500 sure start maternity grant – and the funeral expense assistance will be paid out to families north of the Border from summer 2019, Constance confirmed.

Meanwhile, almost 70,000 carers across Scotland will start receiving extra cash next year when carer’s allowance payments are increased – with the Scottish Government investing more than £30 million a year on it. The benefit will rise from £62.10 a week to bring it in line with jobseeker’s allowance – which is set by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and is currently at £72.40 for those aged 25 and over. This follows a pledge by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to up the payment levels in October 2015.

The first additional payments will be made to carers in summer 2018, with Constance explaining interim arrangements to make the change as quickly as possible will see them receive extra cash twice a year.

She stressed the money would be backdated to April 2018, so carers will receive the higher amount for the full financial year.

The details on the newly devolved welfare payments mark the “next milestone in building Scotland’s new social security system,” and “investment in the people of Scotland” will always be at the heart of it,” Constance said.

She added: “These are the first benefits our new social security agency will deliver.

“Our approach will always treat people with fairness, dignity and respect, and there is no better way to show this than providing the support that they need and when they need it. These steps are key to helping us create a fairer country for all.

“Our plans will be laid out to the Parliament when we publish our Bill next month and we look forward to working with members to deliver this significant legislation.”

The new best start grant will see eligible families given £600 after the birth of their first child, with two payments of £250 made around the time they go to nursery and before they start school.

Further payments of £300 will be made following the birth of any second and subsequent children under the scheme, with Constance describing it as a “substantial investment in a child’s early years”.

She added: “As part of our wider work aimed at giving each child the best start in life, it will contribute to tackling child poverty, improving health outcomes and raising attainment.”

She said the funeral expense assistance would help provide “critical support to people at a difficult time”.

The application process for it will be made simpler, she said, while the new Scottish social security agency will aim to process applications within 10 working days of receiving them.

Constance said: “Our plans for the first wave of benefits show the difference we can make to the people of Scotland through our social security powers.

“Best start grant, our first new benefit, will greatly improve the support we provide and better aligns with our other work to support children and families.

“Funeral expense assistance will make important changes to the way we support people with the cost of funerals, providing more certainty and clarity for people at a difficult time.

“We are working as quickly as possible to give carers in Scotland more money. It is right that the first new act of the agency will be to address the unfairness of the current system, where carers receive less support than others.”