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Anti-poverty campaigners urge Scottish Government to go further in mitigating effect of Universal Credit

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Anti-poverty campaigners urge Scottish Government to go further in mitigating effect of Universal Credit

Anti-poverty campaigners have urged the Scottish Government to step in and do more to mitigate the effect of Universal Credit.

The UK Government has come under growing pressure over its welfare reforms, amid reports the rollout of Universal Credit has caused a rise in in homelessness, housing arrears and food bank use.

Figures from the Trussell Trust show that, on average, foodbanks have seen a 52 per cent increase in demand a year on from the introduction of Universal Credit.

Ministers have pledged to use new welfare powers brought by the 2016 Scotland Act to support those struggling following UK welfare reforms, with figures from Scottish Parliament Information Centre showing the Scottish Government had spent nearly £400m on welfare mitigation measures between 2015/16 and 2018/19.

But with the Scottish Government due to unveil its spending plans next month in the 2019-20 budget, the Child Poverty Action Group Scotland, Nourish Scotland, Oxfam Scotland and the Poverty Alliance have come together to call on ministers to take more urgent action to top up the incomes of Scottish families.

Polly Jones is project manager of A Menu for Change, a partnership run by anti-poverty groups.

She said: “It’s appalling that in a rich country like Scotland, more and more people are turning to food banks because they don’t have enough money to buy food; a problem which is being exacerbated by the disastrous roll out of Universal Credit.

“There’s no question this is crisis driven by UK government cuts but it’s important to remember that the Scottish government isn’t powerless to tackle the effects of policies made at Westminster. If we’re going to avoid a winter of misery with countless people facing hunger then it’s time for ministers to live up to their promise to top up he incomes of hard up families across Scotland.”

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