Baby boxes may be 'vastly more expensive' than first thought
A Conservative MSP has said the programme's pilot scheme raises doubts over initial estimates.
A pilot scheme for the Scottish Government's baby box programme shows it "could be vastly more expensive" than initial estimates, the Scottish Conservatives have claimed.
The Scottish Government is planning to deliver a cardboard box of essential items to every new mother from this summer.
Original estimates for the initiative projected each box to cost the devolved administration around £100.
A pilot scheme for the first 200 babies born in Clackmannanshire and Orkney is currently in operation.
A freedom of information request by the Daily Mail has shown the contract for the pilot costing £100,000, meaning the average box costs £500.
Scottish Conservative health spokesman Donald Cameron said: "The Scottish Conservatives have long been sceptical of the SNP's plans to provide costly baby boxes that even Nicola Sturgeon's poverty adviser this week described as a gimmick.
"In terms of cost, we've been pressing the SNP for an annual breakdown for some time.
"The pilot scheme now shows that it could be vastly more expensive than initially envisaged to provide every new parent in Scotland with one of these boxes."
He added: "The actual evidence as to how effective these boxes might be is limited, to say the least.
"It makes a lot more sense to focus resources on providing new parents with practical information and ongoing support with their child's upbringing."
A spokesman for the Scottish Government said: "This is simply not true - the budget for the baby boxes has not changed.
"The cost of the pilot is already factored into the total budget and we will obviously achieve significant economies of scale when purchasing for the national roll-out."
The Scottish Government said the first year's total cost will be £8m, including the pilot, with the scheme coming in at an annual bill of between £6m to £7m for the next year.
The pilot was delivered by a private company, APS Group but the final contract for the national scheme is yet to be awarded.
APS was responsible for sourcing of the box and its contents, packing and delivery to new mothers.
A total of 54,484 births were registered in Scotland last year.