Officials in Saudi Arabia have revealed plans to hand out billions of dollars in funds for those struggling with the increasing cost of living.

State employees are set to receive $266 (£196, €222) per month in 2018 after a decree was issued by King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.

The largesse is estimated to help the 1.8m people employed by the Gulf state.

Awwad bin Saleh Alawwad, the minister of culture and information said: "The allocation of 50bn riyals for this decree indicates the leadership's concern for the people's comfort and quality of living."

It is hoped that these monthly payments will help struggling families who are being hit by a sharp increase in gas prices as well as a 5% tax hike in foods prices and utilities.

These revised prices was introduced to help tackle the government's budget deficit which stands at around $52bn.

Soldiers and pensioners are also in line for government handouts with a $1,330 bonus being awarded as well as help with the cost of VAT on some first-time home purchases.

Perks for members of the royal family are also set to be slashed.

Several princes were arrested on Saturday (6 January) after staging a rare protest outside the royal palace, amid an ongoing corruption crackdown.

Sheikh Saud Al Mojeb said the government had "halted payments by the state to members of the royal family to cover their electricity and water utility bills".