SCOTLAND’S Finance Secretary has said that the £5 uplift to the Scottish Child Payment is “absolutely not” at risk of being cut.

A report from the Daily Record newspaper, based on leaked documents, said the Scottish Government is grappling with a £2.1 billion “black hole” in this year’s budget and civil servants have come up with plans to balance the budget.

One of the options outlined included the delaying or scrapping altogether of the increase to the flagship benefit to £25 per week.

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But when asked if the uplift was at risk, Kate Forbes said: “Absolutely not – that shouldn’t even need to be said.”

However she acknowledged that balancing the budget this year would be a challenge.

“We cannot do anything but balance our budget – as I’ve been at pains to say for the past few weeks – and we will balance our budget,” she said.

“There are quite clearly challenges, which I’ve not shied away from, in terms of cost of living and inflationary pressures, and that’s why I have been consistent on calling on the UK Government to provide additional resource for individuals who are struggling, to ensure we have public sector pay deals that are fair but also affordable.

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“We will continue that conversation – I’ll certainly be speaking to the Chancellor as quickly as he’ll speak to me – about those requests and demands.”

Forbes added: “At the end of the day, I must by law balance my budget and we’re absolutely committed to tackling child poverty and there’s a lot therefore that I don’t recognise in that leak.”