Boost for family budgets before Christmas



Low income families, around 148,000 children will benefit from a £320 uplift before Christmas as part of the Scottish Government’s commitment to tackling child poverty.

Eligible families with children in school will receive payments of £160 per child in October and December. Two Bridging Payments of £100 have already been made via local councils, taking the total to £520 this year.

The cash is equivalent to the Scottish Child Payment (SCP), a £10-a-week benefit which provides regular, additional financial support for families in receipt of qualifying benefits to assist with the costs of caring for a child aged under six years old.

SCP will be extended to all eligible under-16s by the end of 2022, with quarterly Bridging Payments made in the interim. The Scottish Government also intends to double the SCP to £20 per week as quickly as possible following the expansion.

Social Justice Secretary Shona Robison will highlight the payments today when she opens a parliamentary debate on the commitments in the Programme for Government which aim to create a fairer society.

We are determined to build a better future for Scotland’s children and we know how important these payments will be to families in need this winter – particularly with rising fuel bills and Christmas just around the corner. Together the Scottish Child Payment and Bridging Payments will put an estimated £130 million in the pockets of low income families this year, providing support as we recover from the pandemic. Scottish Child Payment is already the most ambitious anti-poverty measure currently being undertaken anywhere in the UK and we have committed to double it to £20-a-week per child as soon as possible in this parliamentary term. It stands in stark contrast to the indefensible move by the UK Government to withdraw £20-a-week in Universal Credit from those who need it most.

- Shona Robison, Social Justice Secretary

Councils are pleased to be able to ensure that eligible low income families have access to an additional £520 this year and next through these Bridging Payments. It is important families who have been hardest hit by the pandemic have these vital additional funds as we move forward with the challenging recovery process. This demonstrates how local government can reach in and support families in our communities.

- Councillor Gail Macgregor, COSLA’s Resources spokesperson

The SCP Bridging Payments have been a welcome support to many single parent families supported by One Parent Families Scotland, many of whom are struggling to make choices between heating their homes and feeding their children and themselves. These payments send a message to families that the Scottish Government is aware to their challenges and is actively trying to address these. With fuel prices due to rise with by an average 12%, single parent families remain at risk of falling deeper into poverty and debt in Scotland, more than ever, One Parent Families Scotland believes that regular, predictable, adequate income should be at the heart of tackling child poverty and achieving the national mission to end child poverty.

- Satwat Rehman, CEO of One Parent Families Scotland

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Am I eligible?

All P1 to P4 pupils receive the universal meal at school however only the families eligible on financial grounds will receive this additional payment.

Eligibility info:

  • Both Working Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit with a household income of £7500 or less
  • Universal Credit with a monthly earned income of not more than £625
  • Child Tax Credit only with an annual income of less than £16,105
  • Income related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Asylum Seeker, receiving support under part IV of the Immigration Act 1999.

If you are eligible and have already applied for free school meals you will receive the bridging payment without applying and completing further forms. If your bank or contact details have changed ensure your local council has your new details


Programme for Government 2021-22

Last year the Scottish Government provided around £2.5 billion in support for people on low incomes, including almost £1 billion targeted at children.

More than 108,000 children aged under six have benefited from the Scottish Child Payment since it was introduced in February 2021, to the end of June.

Bridging Payments are made for each child in receipt of free school meals due to low income and are distributed by local authorities. In 2022, four equal payments of £130 will be made to eligible families at Easter, summer, October and Christmas to broadly align with the start of school holidays.

Scottish Child Payment, together with the three Best Start Grant payments and Best Start Foods, could give families on low incomes up to £5,300 by the time their first child turns six.

The Scottish Government have also provided a pandemic support payment of £130 to every household who received Council Tax reduction in April, reaching around 500,000 households.