A package of measures worth £37.2 million has been announced to tackle poverty and inequality, in this financial year.
The funding, confirmed in a Statement to Parliament by the Finance Secretary Katie Forbes this week, will support the delivery of two key investments for 2020-2021:
- a further £100 COVID Hardship Payment for qualifying low income families whose children receive free meals in schools and early learning and childcare settings
- additional funding of £20 million for councils to tackle financial insecurity at a local level, making almost £47 million available for this priority
Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Local Government Aileen Campbell said: “We know the financial burden the pandemic is placing on people across Scotland and this additional investment will help to make a real difference.
“We will invest a further £17.2 million to support families with children. We will use this to fund a further £100 COVID Spring Hardship Payment, following the previous payment in December. This payment will reach up to 168,000 children and young people who receive free meals in school and early learning and childcare settings because their families are on a low income.
“The increase of £20 million doubles the funds we recently made available to councils to specifically tackle financial insecurity at a local level. This additional investment will help them to reach more people and offer enhanced support to those who need it most in their communities.”
Local authorities will be asked to deliver the COVID Spring Hardship Payments alongside the continuation of free school meal provision during the Easter holidays.
The £37.2 million is made up of £25 million in this year’s Scottish Budget, combined with underspends in previously committed action.
The extra £20 million for councils will make a total of almost £47 million of flexible funding available to address locally identified needs.
This funding is in addition to £57.5 million available this year for the Scottish Welfare Fund and over £80 million committed for Discretionary Housing Payments, which includes around £60 million to mitigate the bedroom tax in full.
More than 144,000 children and young people benefited from the £100 COVID Winter Hardship Payment, which was paid to eligible children in primary and secondary school.