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Nicola Sturgeon announces £100m to bridge the gap until Scottish Child Payment begins

Nicola Sturgeon - Image credit: PA

Nicola Sturgeon announces £100m to bridge the gap until Scottish Child Payment begins

The Scottish Government will provide £100m of funding to bridge the gap until the Scottish Child Payment begins in February, Nicola Sturgeon has announced in her speech to SNP conference.

Some of the money will also be used to help others who are struggling with the impact of COVID.

Every family with children in receipt of free school meals will get a cash grant of £100.

The money will be paid before Christmas and families can use it for whatever will help them through the winter, Sturgeon said.

In her speech the SNP leader said the money will help people pay their fuel bills and make sure children don’t go hungry.

It will also be used to offer additional help for the homeless and fund an initiative to get older people online.

Further support for apprenticeships was also announced as part of the drive towards economic recovery.

A new Pathway to Apprenticeships programme will provide work-based training and a £100 a week allowance for school leavers up to age 18, starting with 1,200 young people in sectors such as construction, business, IT, engineering and early years.

The Scottish Government will also invest £15m to help more employers take on an apprentice.

It will pay employers £5,000 for every new modern apprentice between the ages of 16 and 24 they take on.

For apprentices who are care leavers, disabled or from minority ethnic communities, the £5,000 grant will be available up to the age of 29.

For every apprentice aged 25 or over, the Scottish Government will pay employers a grant of £3,500.

Sturgeon also announced that the Scottish Government will give every full time NHS and adult social care worker £500 as a one-off “thank you payment” for their “extraordinary service in this toughest of years”.

The money will be paid in this financial year and it will be separate from any negotiations about pay for the longer term.

Part-time workers will receive a proportionate share.

Sturgeon said the Scottish Government was choosing to fund this from its own resources and was asking nothing of the UK Government, with one exception, that the payment should not be taxed.

Addressing Boris Johnson, Sturgeon said: “Because we don’t control the full tax and benefits system, we don’t have the power to make this payment tax free. But Prime Minister, you do.

“So I am asking you this: Please allow our health and care heroes to keep every penny of Scotland’s thank you to them. Do not take any of it away in tax.”

The First Minister said these were some “concrete examples” of how the Scottish Government was working to rebuild and renew “even in areas that are still substantially reserved to Westminster”, but she asked people to consider how much more could be achieved if they “didn’t have one hand tied behind our backs”.

She said: “The Scottish Government hasn’t got everything right – far from it.

“But I doubt there are many people in Scotland who would have wanted Westminster to be more in charge of our pandemic response.

“In the depth of crisis, we have looked to and trusted our own government and parliament to steer us through.

“We should do the same now as we look to rebuild.

“Our opponents will argue independence is a distraction from that. They could not be more wrong.

“If we want to make sure the country we rebuild is the one we want it to be, with kindness, compassion, fairness, equality and enterprise at its heart, and not one built in the image of Boris Johnson and his band of Brexiteers, we must work to the right plan, with all the tools we need to do the job.

“Independence is not a distraction from the task of post-COVID reconstruction. It is essential to getting it right.”

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