THE Scottish Government is on course to spend more than

£125 million in 2018-19 to protect people from the worst effects of UK Government welfare reform.

Social Security Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said £63m will go towards discretionary housing payments – including around £51m to mitigate the bedroom tax in full. The Scottish Welfare Fund will receive £38m and a new financial health check service will get £1.8m.

Meanwhile, as at the middle of last month, the new Social Security Scotland agency had spent £34m on payments of the Carers Allowance Supplement and Best Start Grants.

Somerville said: “I am proud that in its first three months Social Security Scotland provided significant extra help to carers and low-income families with children.

“However, these figures illustrate starkly the significant challenge we face in providing support to those who need it while not having all the powers that would allow us to make a greater difference.”