A new welfare payment aimed at helping low income families in Scotland will be introduced ahead of schedule, the First Minister has announced.
The Best Start Grant, which replaces the Sure Start Maternity Grant north of the border, is one of 11 benefits being devolved to Holyrood.
Nicola Sturgeon said the first payments will begin before Christmas, six months earlier than originally planned.
Providing an update on the devolved benefits during her programme for government speech, she told MSPs: “This will provide the most extensive support anywhere in the UK for new parents on low incomes: £600 on the birth of a first child, £300 on the birth of any subsequent child – with not two child limit or abhorrent rape clause – and £250 for each child when they start nursery and again when they start school.
“It will benefit around 50,000 families each year.”
She added: “I am delighted to announce today that, assuming we get the required DWP (Department for Work and Pensions) co-operation, the first pregnancy and baby payments will be made before Christmas this year – six months ahead of schedule.”
Social Security Scotland has been set up to handle the devolved benefits, with the first payments of the new Carers’ Allowance Supplement due to begin next week.
The Funeral Expense Assistance Grant is due to be paid from the summer of 2019.
Meanwhile the new Young Carer Grant will be paid from autumn next year, Ms Sturgeon said.