NICOLA Sturgeon will put the cost-of-living crisis front and centre of her Program for Government including a further rise of the Scottish Child Payment.

The First Minister will outline the actions her government hopes to take in the next 12 months as Holyrood returns from summer recess today.

Under the plans, the Scottish Child Payment will increase to £25 per week from November 14 from the current £20 payment.

The Scottish Government has received criticism from political opponents and charities for a lack of urgency in raising the benefit as a key measure in tackling child poverty.

Approximately 400,000 children will be eligible for an anti-poverty benefit increase from November.

The First Minister will set out how the Scottish Government will help households and businesses cope with the cost emergency which she said “will cost lives”.

Ms Sturgeon said: “The Scottish child payment is unique to Scotland, the most ambitious child poverty reduction measure in the UK and an important action to mitigate the growing cost emergency."

She renewed calls on the UK Government to take urgent action as most of the key policy levers and resources to address the crisis lie with Westminster.

The FM added: “Through this year’s Programme for Government we will take every action, within the financial means and legislative powers at our disposal, to help people through this humanitarian crisis that will cost lives.

“The most significant powers to tackle this crisis rest squarely with the UK Government and their inaction has compounded the difficulties everyone is facing.

“In the absence of a plan from the incoming prime minister we have set a clear set of actions which the UK Government could take now, and should have taken already, to begin to address the crisis.

“These include an immediate cancellation of the October price cap and an uprating of benefits.

“The last few months have made it abundantly clear Scotland cannot rely on the UK Government to support people in Scotland through this crisis. It is vital they have a choice over their future.

“Make no mistake, we will continue to act where others have not to help people and businesses – and the UK Government needs to follow our example.”

The Scottish Conservatives have called for ministers to reallocate the £20m the government has set aside for an independence referendum towards the Scottish Child Payment and better support businesses through the cost-of-living crisis.

Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross said: “No one should be under any illusions about how tough the coming winter will be for people across the country, primarily because of soaring global energy costs.

“It’s essential that both the UK and Scottish governments work together to help ease the unprecedented burden on household budgets.

“I know it will be the top priority of the new Prime Minister to add to the £37 billion in support already provided by the UK Government.

"But the Scottish Government must do its bit to help too and have a laser-like focus on the cost-of-living crisis.

“The last thing Scotland needs right now is for the SNP-Green Government to waste time and money on a self-serving push for another divisive independence referendum next year. It is entirely the wrong priority at the worst possible time.

“Nicola Sturgeon should drop this reckless plan and reallocate the £20million earmarked for it in the form of an extra £200 payment to families receiving for the Scottish Child Payment.

"That’s just one of several measures I’d like to see her government introduce to help vulnerable families and individuals."

A UK Government spokesperson said: “We know that rising prices are impacting people in Scotland and across the UK – which is why we we’ve already taken action to help households with £37 billion worth of support throughout the year, which includes specific support to help people through the difficult winter ahead.

“Eight million of the most vulnerable households will see £1,200 extra support, provided in instalments across the year, and everyone will receive £400 over the winter to help with energy bills.

“That’s including a record fuel duty cut and a national insurance cut worth up to £330 a year for the typical employee.

“We have also provided the Scottish Government with a record £41 billion settlement for the next three years and it has significant control over taxes and benefits.”