Nicola Sturgeon to announce £100 million fund to help hard up Scots this winter

PA

A £100 million fund will be set up to help hard up Scots this winter, Nicola Sturgeon will announce, with the support including direct payments of £100 to all families with children in receipt of free school meals.

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

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

The new £100 million winter fund for low income households will provide those in need with cash to help “pay their fuel bills and make sure children don’t go hungry”, Ms Sturgeon will tell the SNP annual conference.

In addition to this, it will help pay to get older people connected online and provide help for the homeless.

While the First Minister will stress Scotland does not have to be independent for the SNP government to “start doing the right things”, 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.

Following Covid-19, Ms Sturgeon will insist her party wants to rebuild the country “with kindness, compassion, fairness, equality and enterprise at its heart – and not one made in the image of Boris Johnson and his band of Brexiteers”.

She will state: “We must make sure we are working to the right plan, with all the tools we need to do the job.”

In February, the Scottish Government is bringing in a £10 week a payment for children in low income families – with Ms Sturgeon to say that Scotland is the “only part of the UK” to take such action.

But she will add: “I know that for families struggling now, February is still a long way off.

“So I am announcing today a £100 million package to bridge that gap, and help others struggling most with the impact of Covid over the winter months.

“It will include money to help people pay their fuel bills and make sure children don’t go hungry.

“It will offer additional help for the homeless, and fund an initiative to get older people online and connected.

“And, most importantly of all, it will provide a cash grant of £100 for every family with children in receipt of free school meals.

“The money will be paid before Christmas and families can use it for whatever will help them through the winter. That could be food, new shoes or a winter coat for the kids.

“Families will know best what they need. That’s not for government to decide.”

She will declare: “Initiatives like this are not just about providing practical help to those who need it most – they are an expression of our values and of the kind of country we are seeking to build.”

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