COWDENBEATH MSP Annabelle, has welcomed Scottish Government intervention which she says has helped protect residents in her constituency from welfare cuts.

New figures show that 7,995 Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP) were made to those on low incomes in the Fife Council area between April and September this year.

The total award value spent in Fife in this period was £4,486,938 - with an average award value of £561.

The Scottish Government’s DHP scheme is an extra payment to help with housing costs, including cuts to the local housing allowance and covering in full the impact of the 'bedroom tax'.

Under the bedroom tax, social housing tenants have their housing benefits cut if they have a spare bedroom; the maximum rent that can be covered by benefits is reduced by 14% for 1 spare bedroom and 25% for 2 or more spare bedrooms.

Ms Ewing blasted the Conservative Government's continued defence of the bedroom tax, saying: “The bedroom tax was and remains an attack on those on the lowest incomes.

“The Scottish Government spends millions every year shielding Scots from UK Government welfare policy. That our devolved Government should have to protect its citizens from the cruelty of the UK state is unacceptable and unsustainable.

“These latest figures show that, across the Fife Council area, in just the six month period from April to September this year, very nearly eight thousand local households, many of them in my Cowdenbeath constituency, were protected from the impact of the Tory Bedroom Tax to the tune of almost four and a half million pounds.

“The SNP has been mitigating the worst impacts of Tory austerity but we would not be in this position if Scotland had full control over its own affairs".

She added: “We can build something better. Social security should be about compassion and dignity but the Tories have shamelessly presided over a callous and calculated dismantling of the welfare system.

“The two child cap, the rape clause, the benefits freeze, in work poverty, record food bank demand and rising child poverty and now, their reckless pursuit of Brexit threatens to push yet more people into poverty – with analysis showing that a no deal Brexit would drive 130,000 Scots into poverty.

“We must escape Brexit, escape the Tories and put Scotland’s future in Scotland’s hands. Only a vote for the SNP can do that.”