Families in Scotland have been urged to claim the new Scottish payment for children, or risk missing out on an extra £40 every four weeks.
More than 77,000 Scottish Child Payment applications have been received since Social Security Scotland started taking applications on 9 November.
The new benefit, which is unique to Scotland, will give qualifying parents and carers £40 every four weeks for each child under six.
The benefit starts today, meaning that Social Security Scotland is now able to do final eligibility checks and start issuing decisions.
The new Scottish Child Payment has been hailed by the Joseph Roundtree Foundation as being “more needed than ever”.
Payments for those who applied today or earlier will be backdated today. Parents and carers who have not yet applied and have a child under six are encouraged to apply today to get the maximum amount of money they are entitled to.
People who apply after today will have their payment calculated from the day that they apply and the first decisions and payments will arrive from later this month.
Social Security Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said: “This is a fantastic response to our new payment. Today marks the day that parents and carers will become eligible for Scottish Child Payment.
“We’ve had a great response and this is a very large number of applications. It will take time to work through these applications and I’d like to ask families for their patience while we work as quickly as we can to process these.
“The Scottish Child Payment is the most ambitious anti-poverty measure currently being undertaken anywhere in the UK. Announced in late June 2019 the new payment has been achieved at great speed.
“In 2021-22 we will invest £3.6 billion in social security payments supporting carers, young people, and low income families including £68 million for this new payment.
“Significantly more families are now relying on benefits due to the pandemic – some perhaps for the first time. Scottish Child Payment will help lift children in Scotland out of poverty.
“We are proactively promoting this payment and we have written to everyone on the Universal Credit and HMRC tax credit databases who may be eligible to invite them to apply. .
“Covid-19 restrictions continue to put additional pressure on parents and carers and I recognise how busy families are. But I’d like to take this opportunity to encourage anyone who hasn’t yet applied, to take ten minutes to get their application in – it’s vital that people get the money they are entitled to.”
Scottish Child Payment has been introduced ahead of schedule for children under six by building on the existing infrastructure for Best Start Grant payments.
The payment is planned to be fully rolled out to children under the age of 16 by the end of 2022. This is subject to data on qualifying benefits being received from the DWP to enable Social Security Scotland to make top-up payments.
To find out more and/or to make a claim please follow this link.