PARENTS across Scotland have been applying early for the new Scottish Child Payment that will open on February 15.

Social Security Scotland is taking applications ahead of the new benefits introduction to help manage demand. Some 56,000 applications were received between November 9 and January 3.

Those who apply before the start date will have their payments calculated from February 15. Parents are encouraged to apply now to avoid losing out on any money.

The new benefit will give eligible families on tax credits or certain benefits an extra £40 every four weeks for each child under six.

Scotland is the only part of the UK where this additional payment for families with young children will be available. The Scottish Fiscal Commission have forecast that the payment could support up to 194,000 children this financial year.

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Social Security Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said: “This is a great response to our new payment. The Scottish Child Payment is the most ambitious anti-poverty measure currently being undertaken anywhere in the UK but there are many more families out there who are entitled to this support and we want to make sure that they get every penny that they are due.

"That’s why we are asking people to get their application in early so that their payments will be calculated from the first day the payment starts.

“Almost 60% of all children in poverty live in a family where a child is under six so I am proud we are able to introduce it early for families with young children before we roll it out to children under 16 in 2022.

“Significantly more families are now relying on benefits due to the events of the last year – some perhaps for the first time – and this payment will help lift children in Scotland out of poverty.”

Paul Carberry, Action for Children director for Scotland, said: “Action for Children staff see the effects of child poverty every day and the impact it has on many of the children and families whom we support, care for and work with.

“We recognise that the impact of child poverty is not only felt in purely financial means but is also measured by children having an increase in poverty of opportunity. One simple act to help reduce child poverty is by putting money in the pockets of parents.

“The Scottish Child Payment can ease the struggle some families face in providing the basics and necessities of life.”