Carers and low-income families in Falkirk district will receive improved financial support if MSPs back the Scottish Government’s budget for 2019-20.

Under proposals outlined by Finance Secretary Derek Mackay, £37million will be set aside to fund the Carer’s Allowance Supplement. This extra payment was introduced by Scotland’s new social security agency last year and is made to about 75,000 people across the country who receive Carer’s Allowance. The supplement is paid twice a year and is set to rise in line with inflation in the coming year, bringing its value to about £450.

This year will also see the introduction of the Young Carer Grant – a £300 payment for 16 to 18-year-olds who don’t qualify for Carer’s Allowance but do at least 16 hours of caring a week.

The draft budget also commits £12.4million to Best Start Grant payments, another benefit introduced by Social Security Scotland. The grant provides financial support of up to £600 for low-income families on the birth of a child. That will be followed by two £250 payments when a child starts nursery and school.

Meanwhile, £6.2million has been allocated in the budget to kickstart Funeral Expense Assistance, which will help low-income families to cover the cost of a loved one’s funeral. This new Scottish benefit will replace the UK Government’s Funeral Payment and raise the total funding available to bereaved families in need by £2million.

Falkirk West MSP Michael Matheson said: “The funding made available in the draft budget for the new benefits delivered by Social Security Scotland will help to put more money in the pockets of carers and provide vital support for low-income families in Falkirk district.

“The Scottish Government values the important contribution carers make to society and the Carer’s Allowance Supplement and the Young Carer Grant are recognition of this.

“The Best Start Grant is tangible proof of our ambition to make Scotland the best place in the world to grow up. Along with Funeral Expense Assistance, these are just the first steps in our efforts to use our limited welfare powers to tackle inequality and reduce poverty.

“I hope MSPs from all parties will get behind these proposals during next month’s vote on the budget and secure this substantial investment in our carers and low-income families.”