Eligible families have been urged to apply for a £260 bridging payment before the December school holidays.

Those with children who get free school meals on the basis of being from a low-income household will receive the benefit before Christmas.

Social Justice Secretary Shona Robison said those eligible and not already receiving bridging payments should register with the council as soon as possible.

Those who are already registered have received up to £390 per child through the quarterly bridging payments so far this year.

Ms Robison said: “I urge anyone who is eligible and not already in receipt of bridging payments to register for free school meals through their local authority as soon as possible to ensure they qualify for the December payment.

“We will provide almost £40million in support this winter through the December bridging payments alone and, while we expect to reach in the region of 145,000 children, we don’t want anyone to miss out.

“We will also open applications for the Scottish Child Payment to all eligible under-16s from November 14, when it will be increased to £25 per eligible child per week – a rise of 150 per cent in less than eight months.

“We know the cost-of-living crisis is having a severe impact on many families, particularly for those on the lowest incomes.

“With pressures on family budgets increasing, it is more important than ever to receive all the help available.”

A number of other benefits are also available to low-income families in the local area during the key stages in a child’s life, with further support being provided to carers and people with a disability.

These include the Young Carer Grant and Carer’s Allowance Supplement, as well as the Child Disability Payment and Adult Disability Payment.

In addition, there are grants to help people start a new job or even pay for a family funeral.

Ms Robison added: “With limited powers and a finite budget, the Scottish Government can only do so much to mitigate the cost-of-living crisis but we continue to do as much as possible for the people who need it most.”

For more details, visit www.socialsecurity.gov.scot.