Scotland politics

New social security payments outlined by Angela Constance

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Media captionScottish government sets out priorities for devolved benefits

Details of the first social security payments to made by the Scottish government have been outlined.

Control over some benefits has been transferred from the UK to the Scottish government.

The Best Start Grant, a replacement for the maternity grant to help target child poverty, and the Funeral Expense Assistance grant, will be paid from the summer of 2019.

An increased Carer's Allowance will be payable from the summer of 2018.

Social Security Secretary Angela Constance set out the details in a ministerial statement to MSPs at Holyrood.

She said the new social security system was the "largest and most complex programme of change delivered since devolution".

The new benefits will be subject to the scrutiny and agreement of the Scottish Parliament.

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Image caption The Carer's Allowance is being increased and will be delivered from summer 2018

Ms Constance said: "The delivery of these first benefits is the next milestone in building Scotland's new social security system - the largest, most complex programme of change in the history of devolution.

"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 and when they need it. These steps are key to helping us create a fairer country for all.

"Our plans will be laid out to the parliament when we publish our bill next month and we look forward to working with members to deliver this significant legislation."

Under the plans, Carer's Allowance will increase to the same level as Jobseeker's Allowance. The Scottish government said this was an investment of more than £30m a year.

The Best Start Grant will replace the Sure Start Maternity Grant and will see a one of grant of £600 for the first child in low income families (a £100 increase on the current rate). It will also reintroduce a £300 payment for subsequent children and two payments of £250 each during a child's early years.

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Image caption The Best Start Grant aims to help tackle child poverty

The Scottish government has vowed to process applications for the Funeral Expense Assistance grant within 10 days and make it easier for people to find out if they are eligible for the support.

Holyrood is to be given control over 11 benefits under the Scotland Bill and work is currently under way to set up a Scottish Social Security Agency.

It will oversee the delivery of benefits including:

  • Disability Living Allowance
  • Personal Independence Payments
  • Carer's Allowances
  • Discretionary Housing Payments
  • Winter Fuel Payments

The handover of powers is being phased across the current parliamentary term.

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