A HOLYROOD committee has called on the Scottish Government to increase benefits in line with inflation.

The Social Justice and Social Security Committee published its pre-budget report on Tuesday, against a backdrop of Scottish Government cuts and uncertainty over next year’s funding settlement.

In April, the Scottish Government announced it would be uprating devolved benefits by 6%, but since, inflation has risen to 10.1% and the committee has urged ministers to further increase the safety net, or provide “detailed justification as to why not”.

Last week, acting Finance Secretary John Swinney announced a further £615 million in cuts to the Scottish budget as a result of the economic situation, taking the total figure to £1.2 billion.

READ MORE: Scottish benefits agency reveals annual payments – and warns of 'difficult' times ahead

“Social security is a safety net,” the report said.

“It has a vital role in supporting those with low incomes.

“As we have heard, those on very low incomes face higher rates of inflation. Back in April 2022, eight of the benefits delivered by Social Security Scotland were increased by 6%.

“The new Consumer Prices Index (CPI) was announced on October 19 and rose by 10.1% in the 12 months to September 2022, up from 9.9% in August, returning to July’s recent high.

“We recognise the importance of maintaining the real-terms value of benefits.

“Therefore, we expect the Scottish Government to uprate all Scottish benefits by the September Consumer Prices Index of 10.1% and if this does not happen, we require detailed justification as to why not.”

The committee also urged ministers to look again at the annual £50 winter heating payment provided to the most vulnerable, asking them to “think carefully about whether this is an adequate level of payment in light of current energy costs”.

The committee also urged the Scottish Government to improve transparency in the budgeting process, to ensure those impacted by Scotland’s finances have more of a say.

Deputy convener Natalie Don said: “The current cost crisis risks causing severe damage to people and organisations throughout Scotland.”

“Our Committee believes that by following through on its initial good work to develop a human rights budget process, the Scottish Government can ensure that the voices of people and organisations who are on the front line of the cost crisis will be heard.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The Scottish Government has a legal duty to publish a report each year that sets out the impact of inflation on social security benefits, and our plans for the next financial year. We will do this in due course.

“In April we doubled the Scottish Child Payment to £20 per week per eligible child and this will further increase to £25 per week from 14 November – a rise of 150% in less than eight months providing important additional support for low-income families, which is only available in Scotland.

“In March we also uprated eight other Scottish benefits by 6%, which was significantly higher than the 3.1% CPI by which most UK Government benefits were increased.”