MID Scotland and Fife MSP, Alex Rowley, has condemned 'Westminster welfare cuts' following the release of an official annual report on welfare reform which has found many thousands of people across Scotland have been pushed into poverty by reforms.

Welfare reforms imposed by successive UK Governments since 2010, will have resulted in an overall reduction in welfare spending in Scotland of £3.7bn by 2020/21.

The Kelty based MSP said this week that the findings suggested the Conservative Government implemented benefit freeze has led to reductions in spending of £190m in 2018/19, and this figure is expected to rise to £370m by 2020/21.

This official report comes at a time when a further report from an independent expert, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, has revealed 1 in 4 children in Scotland are living in poverty.

In its annual state of the nation report, Poverty in Scotland 2018, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation warns that 230,000 children in Scotland live in poverty.

Commenting on the news, Alex Rowley said: “The impact of these Tory welfare reforms are shocking. It is a disgrace when a Government implements policies that actively push people into poverty.

“Austerity is a political choice, and the Tories are cutting the safety net from under the feet of some of the most vulnerable in our society. They should be ashamed of these welfare cuts".

He added: “No child should be living in poverty in 21st century Scotland. Yet among families to whom the Tory benefit cap is applied through housing benefit, 89% contain children and 64% are single parent households. And now we see a quarter of children in Scotland are living in poverty. It is a scandal.

“On top of this, the Tories have made the situation worse by continuing with the roll out of Universal Credit despite failing to address the continuously highlighted problems in the system.

“By 2023 over 7 million households will be receiving Universal Credit - over half of which will be in work. The UK Government’s evidence shows that 1 in 6 people don’t receive their full payment on time, mostly because they have difficulties making their claim.

“The benefit freeze is pushing people into poverty, and Universal Credit is not helping them out of it, but instead making the situation worse. "We need to end the benefit freeze, halt the rollout of Universal Credit, and start supporting people who are in need in our country rather than making their situation even worse.”

Universal Credit arrived in the Cowdenbeath-Lochgelly area 10 months ago.

The Government say that while there have been a few problems with the introduction of UC it is geared to making the Welfare system fairer.

Universal Credit is geared to replacing the following benefits: Child Tax Credit, Housing Benefit, Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA),

income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), and Working Tax Credit.