A WARNING has been given that at least a million more children will be plunged into poverty because of the Tory Government’s “miserable failure” to address the issue.

A total of 4.2 million children are already living in poverty in the UK and the Social Mobility Commission has predicted that this will increase to 5.2 million by 2022 – even without taking into account the impact of the coronavirus crisis.

The SNP has now backed protests from leading anti-poverty campaigners that measures announced on Wednesday will do nothing to rebuild the social security net and lift people out of poverty.

Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Neil Gray MP said the Chancellor had failed to seize the chance in his fiscal statement last week to tackle the soaring rates of child poverty.

If urgent action is not taken, Gray said, the Tory Government would be directly responsible for another one million children being pushed into poverty by 2022.

A comprehensive programme of policies is needed to ensure higher living standards for children, according to the SNP.

READ MORE: SNP MP calls for rebuilding of UK’s welfare system after Tories’ ‘systemic destruction’

These should include raising the child element of Universal Credit and Child Tax Credit by £20 per week, scrapping the benefit cap, two-child cap and the sanctions regime – which all exacerbate child poverty – and urgently rolling out an emergency basic payment to help families in financial difficulty.

“The Chancellor’s statement on Wednesday was quite frankly a miserable failure to rebuild the social security system that families so desperately need right now and tackle the soaring levels of child poverty,” said Gray.

“If this Tory Government continues to sit on its hands, it will be directly responsible for pushing a million more children into poverty over the next two years.

Many pandemic-hit parents will remain locked out of the labour market or in a job that keeps them poor

“The SNP has put forward a number of proposals that would help to rebuild the social security net and lift children out of poverty. Families should not have to choose between paying essential bills or feeding their children.

“After a decade of brutal austerity cuts – which have served only to exacerbate poverty – and a global pandemic, it is now more critical than ever that the UK Government starts taking child poverty seriously and rebuilds the social security net it spent years systematically destroying. If it will not, poverty rates will continue to soar and we will see long lasting damage for generations to come.”

Helen Barnard, acting director of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, said the fiscal statement had included nothing to help low income families with children, despite seven in ten having to cut back on essentials like food and nappies and the majority building up debt and getting behind with rent and bills.

READ MORE: Scottish Government delays annual child poverty report

She asked: “Where is the lifeline for children?”

The Child Poverty Action Group said the Chancellor had to recognise that most children in poverty have a working parent.

“Without more investment in universal credit to make work pay and in affordable childcare, many pandemic-hit parents will remain locked out of the labour market or in a job that keeps them poor,” said a spokesperson.

The Poverty Alliance – Scotland’s network of organisations and individuals working together to end poverty – also expressed disappointment.

“The statement did not include the action we need to ensure our social security system is able to keep people afloat and support an economic recovery for all,” a spokesperson said.