ALMOST a third of Scots families on Universal Credit and Child Tax Credits have had to rely on help from charities for food or children’s clothes over the past two months, new research reveals.

Save the Children found that four in 10 low-income families say they have been left even worse off as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, with 53% of those polled reporting they’ve sunk into debt in the past two months. Almost half (42%) surveyed said they are in rent arrears or behind on household bills.

Research by Save the Children and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation in June found that 71% of Scottish families had to cut back on food and other essentials when the pandemic hit. The new figures suggest things have not improved for many families, with 27% reporting finding it even harder to afford food now than in April.

Parents surveyed spoke of the “shame” of not being able to provide for their children, while others worried their children were being set back because they couldn’t afford laptops or other learning materials.

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Claire Telfer, Save the Children’s head of Scotland said: “It’s just not right that parents are having to borrow money, sell their possessions or rely on charity to buy winter coats for their children. Our country’s safety net is supposed to help those who need it through difficult times. But families with children, many of whom were struggling even before the crisis, are being left – quite literally – in the cold.

“The Chancellor set out his plan for jobs, which is crucial given the unemployment rise facing us. But he must also recognise the added pressure families are under right now, and make policy decisions that reflect that reality, and have our children’s best interests at heart.

“At the very least, we’re urging the Chancellor not to go ahead with plans to take away £1000 in benefits from low-income households next April, which would leave families with children in a desperate situation.

“However, the priority given to delivering the Scottish Child Payment to families with under-sixes in the next few months will be warmly welcomed and it is estimated that this would see 25,000 fewer children in poverty.”