THE SNP has slammed the UK Government for “driving millions of families into absolute poverty” as new figures show more than two million people across the UK sought food bank parcels banks last year – with 200,000 provided across Scotland alone.

Figures released by the Trussell Trust show that more than 2.1m parcels were distributed to people over the last 12 months in the UK, with its Scottish network providing more than 197,000 food parcels to people across Scotland from April 1, 2021 to March 21, 2022.

More than 70,000 parcels were provided for Scots children in that same period, with the charity warning demand is set to soar. It also warned the figures do not yet reflect the impact of the energy price cap, which rose this month.

The charity said it’s witnessing signs of an accelerating crisis across Scotland, following the £20-a-week cut to Universal Credit and the soaring rise in living costs.

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SNP Work and Pensions spokesperson Kirsty Blackman MP commented: “The UK Government should hang their head in shame. Cruel and callous cuts are driving millions of families into absolute poverty, as demonstrated by these figures.

“After decades of Tory austerity, callous cuts, stagnated wages, and railroading through a botched Brexit deal, this crisis has been long in the making.

“The Scottish Government has created an ambitious strategy to tackle child poverty, however, Westminster seems determined to drag more children and families into hardship.

“The SNP have more than doubled the Scottish Child Payment and uprated a range of Holyrood-administered benefits by 6%, while the UK Government slash Universal Credit and hike taxes on the lowest earners.

“The only way to keep Scotland safe from more cruel Tory cuts – and to make food banks a thing of the past – is to become an independent country with the full powers needed to build a fairer and more prosperous future.”

Polly Jones, head of Scotland at the Trussell Trust, said: “We should all be free from hunger. No one should be pushed deeper into poverty without enough money for the things we all need.

“And yet, people are telling us they’re skipping meals to feed their children and turning off the heating so they can afford internet access for their kids to do their homework.”

She added: “But there is still time for governments at every level to do the right thing. That’s why we are urging the UK Government to make benefits realistic for the times we face, and calling on the Scottish Government to use its powers to do all it can to support people on the lowest incomes.”

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Social Justice Secretary Shona Robison said the Scottish Government has taken “significant action” to support people, adding: “We will also continue to promote a cash-first approach so that people can access food and other essentials with dignity and choice.”

She said while there has been a second year-on-year reduction in food parcels in Scotland, “there is more to do to ensure that no one has to go hungry or rely on charity to eat”, and added: “The UK Government must show the same level of ambition and take urgent action.”