Scotland’s redress scheme for victims of abuse in care has been launched, with John Swinney saying applicants will be treated with “dignity, respect and compassion”.
From Wednesday, survivors of historic child abuse will be able to apply for compensation of between £10,000 and £100,000 through an official Scottish Government scheme.
In some circumstances, relatives of those who experienced abuse can apply for payments of £10,000.
The scheme has been backed by more than £115 million of public money and will be administered by a new organisation called Redress Scotland.
The Deputy First Minister announced the opening of the scheme in Holyrood on Wednesday.
He said: “As a nation, we are taking this step together to acknowledge and address the injustices of the past.
“I hope the survivors and the families of those who are no longer with us, whose tenacity and determination have led us to this milestone can feel a sense of justice today.
“Out of the horror they endured, the silence they were forced to keep in childhood and beyond, they fought for recognition.
“Part of that recognition is delivered today by this scheme.”
Mr Swinney reiterated the government’s apology for the delay in setting up an inquiry into child abuse between 2002 and 2014.
The scheme will also offer emotional support and formal apologies from organisations in which the abuse took place.
An early initiative called the Advanced Payments Scheme has made 700 payments, Mr Swinney said.
He said the government would work to raise awareness of the scheme and a new forum for survivors would be set up early next year.
A number of organisations which were responsible for care of children have signed up to contribute to the scheme.
Mr Swinney said “dignity, respect and compassion” would be the hallmark of the redress scheme, which was established by law in the Scottish Parliament in March this year.
Scottish Conservative MSP Jamie Greene welcomed the launch of the scheme and the commitment to payments of next of kin.
Asking about groups contributing to the scheme, he said: “How many have failed to rise to the occasion, and shamefully refused to participate in the scheme?”
Mr Swinney said the bulk of the funding was coming from local authorities and negotiations were ongoing with other organisations.