THE Scottish Child Payment will be doubled in the upcoming Budget, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced.

The news has been welcomed by campaigners, who called it a step “toward a Scotland where no child has to suffer the injustice of poverty”.

The payment, which was first brought in in February of this year, sees families on low incomes receive £10 per week per child under six. It is now due to be doubled to £20 per week, and made available to children aged six to 15 by the end of 2022.

Sturgeon, who had previously pledged to double the payment "sooner rather than later", made the annoucement during her keynote address to the SNP conference.

She said: “I am very pleased - indeed proud - to announce today that our budget on December 9 will fund the doubling of the Scottish Child Payment immediately from the start of the new financial year.

READ MORE: Almost 110k children helped so far by Scottish Child Payment

“The Scottish Child Payment will increase to £20 per child per week - four times the amount originally demanded by campaigners - from April.

“That means the doubled payments will reach over 100,000 children under age 6 in just four months’ time.”

Citizens Advice Scotland Social Justice Policy Manager Stephanie Millar welcomed the annoucement.

She said: “With families facing a perfect storm of rising bills and stagnant incomes, this is some good news coming next year, and something Citizens Advice Scotland and other organisations have been calling for.

"The payment will be lifeline for families struggling to keep their heads above the rising tide of poverty that threatens to sweep so many into destitution.

“The Citizens Advice network can help people struggling with money and bills. During the pandemic CABs unlocked around £147 million for people and that money can be life changing.”

The news comes after the publication of a new poll which showed doubling the payment was supported by the majority of people in Scotland.

The polling, conducted by Survation for the End Child Poverty coalition in Scotland, revealed that – once Don’t Knows were excluded – 68% of people in Scotland supported the immediate doubling of the benefit for low-income families.

Among those who voted for the SNP at May’s Holyrood elections, this figure jumped to 74%. Young people aged 16-34 were even more likely to back the call, with that figure reaching 79% in favour.

On November 18, more than 100 organisations from across Scotland wrote to Finance Secretary Kate Forbes urging her to “do the right thing” and use December’s budget to double the payment.

Peter Kelly, the director of the Poverty Alliance, welcomed the news that his and other groups’ calls had been listened to.

Kelly said: "The decision to double the Scottish Child Payment from April is one that will loosen the grip of poverty on the lives of thousands of children in Scotland. We, and so many others across Scotland, have been making clear the need to take this action, and we are delighted that the Scottish Government has listened and acted.

“Doubling the payment from April is the right and just thing to do, and will help to keep people afloat amid the rising tide of poverty that's sweeping across the country.

“It's a commitment that can help meet our national mission of ending child poverty, provided we build on this towards a Scotland where no child has to suffer the injustice of poverty. Today, we have taken a step toward that vision."

The director of the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) in Scotland, John Dickie, said: “The First Minister’s commitment to double the new Scottish Child Payment in the coming year is a hugely welcome development on the path to meeting Scotland’s child poverty targets.

"This is a real lifeline for the families across Scotland who are facing a perfect storm of financial insecurity as the UK cut to universal credit bites, energy prices soar and the wider costs of living rise."

He added that for those struggling in poverty, the increase in the payement could not "come soon enough".