SNP Conference: Winter payment pledge for low income families

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Low income families will receive payments of £100 before Christmas, under a new scheme to be announced by Nicola Sturgeon.

The grants will be made to households in receipt of free school meals.

It is part of a £100m fund set up to help low-income Scots this winter which will be unveiled at the SNP conference.

Ms Sturgeon, the SNP leader, will say the cash will help struggling households “pay their fuel bills and make sure children don’t go hungry”.

The fund will also be used to help to get older people online and help the homeless.

The action comes in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis, which has seen many lose their jobs or have their incomes cut.

BBC Scotland’s chief political correspondent Glenn Campbell said the money was coming from so-called “Covid consequentials” – a share for the Scottish government of the extra money being spent by the Treasury.

About a quarter of this £100m fund is to be spent on winter grants to low income families, benefiting about 150,000 households.

Fuel poverty

The cash is designed to support those who would have received the Scottish government’s new weekly £10 child payment, which was due to be introduced around now but has been deferred to February.

A further £25m will be distributed to vulnerable people through local authorities, £15m will go to charities, with further allocations to help the homeless and tackle fuel poverty.

The first minister will say the pandemic has shown that it should no longer be accepted that problems with poverty and inequality are “inevitable or insoluble”.

She told the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland programme: “I do think this pandemic should make us all just look afresh and think again, are we doing enough about these things?”

On Saturday the SNP pledged to extend free school meals to all primary school children if they retain power after the Holyrood elections in May.

But Douglas Ross, the Scottish Conservative leader, who announced a similar policy in September, has questioned why the SNP were waiting until 2022 to implement the programme.

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image captionThe first minister will announce the new fund at the SNP conference, which is being held online

Ms Sturgeon is expected to stress that Scotland does not have to be independent for an SNP government to “start doing the right things”.

But she will complain that Westminster’s control over much of the social security system north of the border makes it harder for ministers to act.

Opposition parties have accused Ms Sturgeon of prioritising an independence referendum over dealing with the pandemic and domestic policy.

Struggling families

Following Covid-19, Ms Sturgeon will insist her party wants to rebuild the country “with kindness,

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