Thousands of people across Scotland are being forced into poverty due to welfare cuts, according to an official report.
The Scottish Government’s paper finds that the benefit freeze alone has led to reductions in spending of around £190 million in 2018/2019, rising to around £370 million by 2020/21.
It also says the UK Government cuts are expected to see social security spending in Scotland reduce by £3.7 billion since 2010 by 2020/21.
Social Security Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said: “These figures in this comprehensive report lay bare the devastating impact of the UK Government’s welfare cuts for people, families and communities across Scotland.
“As ever, it is the poorest and most vulnerable in our society who are suffering the most, those out of work and those in low paid employment finding their benefits effectively being cut year after year.
“The Scottish Government is doing what we can to protect people on lower incomes by, this year alone, investing over £125 million on mitigation measures – £20 million more than last year – and an additional £350 million for council tax reduction.
“Over the coming years, we will use our new social security powers to provide increased financial support for people on low incomes.”
The findings come in the Welfare Reform Report, an annual publication that reports on the impact in Scotland of the UK Welfare Reform Act.
It has also found that Universal Credit claimants are over six times as likely to be sanctioned as claimants of any other legacy benefit, and young men are the most likely to be sanctioned.
A UK Government spokeswoman said: “Since 2010 over 3.3 million more people are in work across the UK, and the proportion of people in Scotland living in absolute poverty is at a record low, including for children.
“We continue to spend around £90 billion a year supporting people who need it, including those who are out of work or on a low income, and with our welfare reforms people are moving into employment faster and staying there longer than under the old system.
“The best way to help people improve their lives is to support them into work and Universal Credit gives people the flexibility to increase their working hours while keeping more of their money.
“The Scottish Government now has significant welfare powers, including to top-up existing benefits, pay discretionary payments and create entirely new benefits altogether.”
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