An increased Carer’s Allowance will be the first social security payment to be delivered by the Scottish Government under newly devolved welfare powers.
The new benefit is set to start from summer 2018 and will raise the Carer’s Allowance to the same level as Jobseeker’s Allowance – a move that will benefit recipients by £600 a year.
Falkirk West MSP Michael Matheson welcomed the announcement by Social Security Secretary Angela Constance, who also outlined details of the Best Start Grant and the Funeral Expense Assistance, both of which will be delivered from summer 2019.
The Best Start Grant, which will replace the Sure Start Maternity Grant, will include a one-off £600 payment for the first child in low-income families and £300 for subsequent children. Qualifying families will also receive £250 when each child begins nursery and a further £250 when they start school. That means a family with two children will receive £1900 in support, compared with the £500 available under the UK Government’s Sure Start Maternity Grant.
Meanwhile, Funeral Expense Assistance applications will be processed within 10 days – much faster than at present – making it easier for people to understand if they are eligible.
Mr Matheson said: “While the new welfare powers that have been devolved to Holyrood from Westminster account for only around 15 per cent of the total Scottish benefit bill, the Scottish Government is committed to making the most of this opportunity to create a fairer and more compassionate social security system.
“The plans outlined for these first new benefits, which will provide significantly better financial support for carers and low-income families, are clear evidence of how we will do things differently to the UK Government.”
The new benefits are subject to the scrutiny and agreement of the Scottish Parliament once the Social Security Bill is published later this month.
Ms Constance said: “The benefits we will deliver may be different in nature but there is one common thread which binds them – an investment in the people of Scotland.
“Our approach will always treat people with fairness, dignity and respect – and there is no better way to show this than providing the support that they need, when they need it.”