THE SNP has called out the UK government’s “shamefully insufficient” benefits system, following new research from the Trussell Trust which has shown more than half of people receiving Universal Credit in Scotland were unable to afford food in the last month.

The Trussell Trust has published new research and urged the First Minister to prioritise support for people on the lowest incomes by continuing to deliver their plan, Cash-First: Towards Ending the Need for Food Banks in Scotland, increasing the Scottish Child Payment to £40 a week and significantly boosting funding for the Scottish Welfare Fund.

Almost half (47%) of people claiming Universal Credit in Scotland are either behind on bills and credit commitments or are finding it a constant struggle to keep up with them, or find themselves struggling to keep up with them. As a result, 32% of those surveyed have fallen into debt.

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In addition to calling for immediate action from Humza Yousaf, the Trust is calling on the UK Government to introduce an Essentials Guarantee, so that the basic rate of Universal Credit is always enough to cover life’s essentials and support can never be pulled below that level.

Supporting the Essentials Guarantee campaign, the SNP warned that successive Westminster governments have failed Scots time and again.

Commenting, the SNP’s spokesperson for social justice, David Linden MP said: “The Chancellor must commit in the Spring Budget to introducing an 'Essentials Guarantee' to ensure that Universal Credit will always cover the cost of essentials.

The National:

“The SNP are committed to eradicating poverty in Scotland. The Scottish Government has frozen council tax, introduced the Scottish Child Payment and Best Start Grants, on top of protecting Scottish households from Westminster's cruel bedroom tax and benefit cap - two things we shouldn't have to do.

"The UK Tory government has failed Scotland time and time again, whether that be through thirteen years of austerity, the unmitigated disaster of Brexit, or the Westminster-made cost of living crisis."

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Polly Jones, head of Scotland at the Trussell Trust, said: “This research reveals the stark truth about poverty in Scotland. With over half of Universal Credit claimants unable to afford enough food, and some not even being to afford to cook food, the First Minister cannot stand by and let this continue.

“The Scottish Government must prioritise tackling poverty and hardship in our communities by continuing to work to their plan, Cash-First: Towards Ending the Need for Food Banks in Scotland, increasing the Scottish Child Payment to £40 a week and boosting funding for the Scottish Welfare Fund.

“We also need to see the UK Government introduce an Essentials Guarantee, to ensure that people on the lowest incomes can afford the essentials such as food, heating, clothing, and hygiene products.

“We want to see a Scotland where no one needs to access charitable food aid. We need urgent action now to increase people’s incomes and ensure everyone has enough money to afford the essentials. Every member of the Scottish Parliament has a responsibility to deliver the positive changes needed to tackle hardship and poverty and to achieve the ambition we all share of a Scotland where no one needs to use a food bank.”