Families on a low income who have young kids are set to benefit from increased welfare payments, digital smartcards and access to a wider range of food.

The Scottish Government is consulting on plans to reshape the Welfare Foods Scheme, which aims to help families access a healthy diet.

The plans include changing from paper Healthy Start food vouchers to smartcards for easier use and to reduce stigma, as well as cutting the administration involved for retailers.

Families’ allowances would rise from £3.10 to £4.25 a week and from £899 to £1,011 in total over the period they receive support.

The range of foods covered by the system will also expand, while it is proposed to add a healthy snack to the free milk children receive at nurseries.

Public Health Minister Aileen Campbell said: “Central to our aim of improving Scotland’s health and tackling inequality is ensuring everyone can have a healthy diet, especially families with young children.

“There is strong evidence that diet impacts on children’s health, their ability to learn and their life chances as they grow up.

“For too many families, poverty and deprivation are daily barriers to eating healthily. Our plans set out how we can further support families to make healthier choices, ensure the system is as easy as possible to use, while reducing stigma and increasing take-up.”

Maggie Simpson, chief executive of the Scottish Childminding Association (SCMA), has welcomed the proposals.

She said: “SCMA is pleased to support the proposal to retain free milk for all services providing care to children under five, including childminders.

“Extending this entitlement to include a healthy snack is something we are very much in favour of.

“This is an ideal opportunity for childcare providers to support healthy food choices.”