FAMILIES in East Renfrewshire with severely-disabled children received benefits totalling £71,000 to heat their homes over the winter months, new statistics have revealed.

The Scottish Government’s Child Winter Heating Assistance scheme, introduced in November 2020, is an automatic payment of £202 for those under the age of 19.

To be eligible, applicants must already receive the highest rate of Child Disability Payment or Disability Living Allowance, or the enhanced rate of Personal Independence Payment.

East Renfrewshire ranked 21st highest out of Scotland’s 32 council areas for payments made through the Child Winter Heating Assistance scheme over the winter period.

A total of 355 payments were issued in the local authority area – up by 20 compared to 2020/21, when £67,000 was dished out.

The new figures mean a total of 690 Child Winter Heating Assistance payments, worth a total of £138,000, have been made in East Renfrewshire since the scheme was introduced.

Social Security Minister Ben Macpherson said: “ This year, we have committed to increase the Child Winter Heating Assistance payment by six per cent, taking the amount people will receive in 2022/23 to £214.

“People do not need to apply for Child Winter Heating Assistance, as the payment is made automatically to families.”