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I thank the hon. Lady for that staggering fact. How sad is it that, in this day and age, children are dying from poverty before they are 15?
If we are to tackle child poverty in Scotland, we must look at whether current policies help us to do so. Since 2010, the Government have implemented a series of welfare reforms, such as universal credit. As we all know from our surgeries and constituents, universal credit is having a negative impact on families. In particular, it is hurting low-income families, pushing more children into poverty. Universal credit could be considered a success only if its aims were to push up rent arrears, increase food bank use and drive people deeper into poverty. That is the success that some think universal credit is creating.
Earlier this year, I led an Adjournment debate on food poverty in Scotland, after it was revealed that more than 210,000 food parcels had been distributed by the Trussell Trust last year. Nearly 70,000 of those food parcels were issued to children. That means that about one in three food parcels distributed in Scotland last year was for a child. What a shameful situation we are in. The UK is meant to be the world’s fifth largest economy, but we have children going hungry in our constituencies.
Rising food bank use is linked directly to the Government’s welfare reforms. Trussell Trust figures reveal that almost 50% of all food bank referrals are the result of a delay to benefit payments to claimants. Almost 35% of all emergency food supplies are distributed to those individuals who find that their benefits regularly fail to cover their cost of living. In areas where universal credit has already been rolled out, the Trussell Trust observed a 30% increase in food bank use after a year of the roll-out.