THE SNP have described Westminster Tory cuts as “beyond disgraceful” after a new study found families are facing the greatest threat to their living standards “in living memory”.

The latest report on the costs of bringing up a family, which is published annually by the Child Poverty Action Group, has found this year has seen the biggest deterioration in living standards since the study began 10 years ago.

It points to a reduction in the support offered by social security – with families able to meet around two-thirds of their needs through benefit income around the start of last decade.

But now this is below half, thanks to benefit freezes and the removal of a £20 Universal Credit top-up during the pandemic.

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“In 2022, the loss of the top-up combined with the failure to uprate benefits in line with accelerating inflation caused a very sharp reduction in adequacy,” it noted.

Even families with steady employment in “reasonably paid jobs” cannot count on having enough income to meet their minimum needs, the report found.

Both parents working full-time on the minimum wage can still expect to fall 6% short, while for a lone parent it is 12% short.

And the situation is worse for larger families, because of the benefit cap and the Tory two-child limit on Universal Credit entitlement.

The report gives the example of a couple supporting two children and living in private accommodation, who now face being over £350 a week short of meeting their needs, an increase since 2016 of nearly 60 per cent.

Alison Garnham, chief executive of CPAG, said: “The warning lights are flashing as family incomes plummet following the real-terms benefit cut last April. Another cut would be calamitous.

“The Government must end the desperate worry and uncertainty in struggling households by uprating benefits with inflation and removing the benefit cap.

“Anything less and the UK will set itself a new child poverty record with millions falling too far back to ever recover.”

SNP MSP Natalie Don said: “It is beyond disgraceful that families are facing the greatest threat to living standards in living memory due to Westminster’s callous cuts.

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“This CPAG report outlines clearly that the current crisis facing households is the brutal cost of living with Westminster control – it’s a result of years of heartless Tory austerity inflicted by out of touch UK governments that people across Scotland did not vote for.

“Whilst the SNP Government in Holyrood is doing all it can with the powers at its disposal to help support families with the cost of living, the Scottish Government’s efforts are constantly battling against the callous cuts from Westminster, and, staggeringly, the current Tory government hasn’t ruled out yet more spending cuts.

“The only way to properly improve the lives of people across Scotland is to become an independent country and escape cruel UK government policies for good.”