Falkirk West MSP Michael Matheson has welcomed the Scottish Government’s welfare spending plans for 2021-22, which put tackling poverty at the heart of the Budget.

Finance Secretary Kate Forbes has committed £3.5billion to social security and welfare payments in the coming financial year. It includes £68million to deliver the Scottish Child Payment, which starts next week and is forecast to benefit 163,000 eligible children under six in the first year.

The Budget will also support Social Security Scotland’s delivery of the new Child Disability Payment, which is aimed at the families of children with disabilities and long-term health conditions.

And the Scottish Government will invest £41million in the Scottish Welfare Fund, which enables local authorities to support the most vulnerable people and helps to lessen the additional impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Mr Matheson said: “The Scottish Government’s plan to commit £3.5billion to social security over the coming financial year is central to our commitment to tackle poverty and create a welfare system with fairness, dignity and respect at its heart.

“As well as mitigating the impact of UK Government welfare cuts – for example, by spending £71million to ensure nobody in Scotland has to pay the unfair bedroom tax – we are using our limited welfare powers to support carers, young people and low-income families.

“The difference between the SNP and the Tories’ approach to welfare couldn’t be more stark. As Scotland is about to introduce the £10-a-week Scottish Child Payment, which will help lift thousands of children out of poverty, the Tories are planning to cut the £20 Universal Credit uplift while people are still reeling from the financial impact of the pandemic.

“I’m proud of how Social Security Scotland is delivering for thousands of people in Falkirk district through new benefits such as the Best Start Grant, the Carer’s Allowance Supplement and the Job Start Payment, and I whole-heartedly back these budget proposals.”