FAMILIES have received £84 million through the “lifesaver” Scottish Child Payment since it was introduced, new figures have shown.

Social Security Scotland launched the benefit in November 2020, and so far over 137,000 individual applications have been approved.

In the 18 months that the payment has been live, the £20 per week financial boost per child has been hailed as “an absolute game changer in the fight to end child poverty” by campaigners.

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The Scottish Government estimates that, as of June 30 2022, 104,000 children are in receipt of the benefit and 1.4m payments have been made.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney, acting Finance Secretary while Kate Forbes is on maternity leave, said: “We are taking a number of urgent actions to address the current cost crisis.

"This includes efforts to maximise financial support to those most in need so that they get all the money they are entitled to.

"The ongoing work to extend eligibility for and increase the value of the Scottish Child Payment is a vital part of these efforts.

The National: Swinney said the Scottish Government are "maximising financial support" during the cost crisisSwinney said the Scottish Government are "maximising financial support" during the cost crisis

“We created our game-changing Scottish Child Payment to provide direct financial support to tackle child poverty.

“Every penny of support is absolutely vital at the moment, which is why we are using our devolved powers and resources to make a difference for as many households as we can.”

The Deputy FM added that the payment is set to be increased to £25 per week per child by the end of the year and rolled out to include all children under 16. Currently, the payment only extends to children aged six and under.

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Swinney added: “The Scottish Government want to support families during these difficult times.”

SNP MSP Elena Whitham, convener of Holyrood’s Social Justice and Social Security Committee, said that it was great to see the “progress being made” through the payment.

She added: "During these difficult times, the Scottish Government is taking the bold action it can to support families with the powers at its disposal but sadly it is battling against a cruel Tory Westminster government refusing to take any meaningful action to help people.

The National: Whitham blasted the Tory-made cost of living crisisWhitham blasted the Tory-made cost of living crisis

"This level of negligence by Westminster is inexcusable and illustrates the only way to build a fairer country is for Scotland to have the full welfare and tax powers of an independent country."

An interim report from July this year said that the payment is undoubtedly having an effect on those on low incomes.

The report reads: “It has led to more money being spent on children, including spend which enables them to participate in social and educational opportunities.”

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It has also had an impact on stigma and health and wellbeing, with parents saying they felt less guilty as they could now afford to spend money on their children, improvements in children’s physical health as parents are able to buy healthier food and being able to pay for them to take part in sporting activities.

Overall the assessment said the Scottish Government had “largely achieved” their short-term and immediate policy goal, but added there is work to be done clarifying eligibility.

There were further recommendations for promoting the payment further through social media and other marketing, and for social security staff to advise applicants what other benefits they may be eligible for.