I recently visited a supermarket in Barrhead and met with staff and volunteers of the Trussell Trust, who were taking donations for a neighbourhood food collection. It was inspiring to see volunteers giving up their time to help their community and those in need. However, it should never be acceptable in a wealthy country like Scotland that there is an increasing amount of people who are reliant on food banks to survive.

The rise of food bank use has undoubtedly been made worse by the UK Government’s obsession with austerity, which has already hit working families, the poorest and our young people the hardest. George Osborne’s latest budget will only widen inequality and push more people into poverty. Barnardos, The Poverty Alliance, Citizens Advice Scotland and many other organisations have repeatedly highlighted the potential for the budget to increase child poverty, yet the UK Government has persistently ignored these concerns.

This lack of action has meant that family budgets are coming under more pressure and the Institute for Fiscal Studies is reporting that two thirds of children in poverty now live in working households.

Tax credits can be a lifeline for families on low incomes, but families in Scotland are facing nearly £700 million worth of cuts to the tax credit system. Local housing allowance will be frozen for four years, public sector employees will have a one per cent pay rise cap and Universal Credit will be restricted to two children, affecting those born after April 2017. It’s also wrong that under UK Government rules many apprentices will be earning just £2.73 per hour.

Meanwhile, there has been a giveaway for richer families with the removal of inheritance tax liability for family homes of up to £1 million.

The Scottish Government has also felt the ramifications of Westminster’s austerity. We have seen our budget reduced by 10% over the past five years, with no indication that the rate of cuts will be eased in the immediate future.

The reality of this Tory budget is that it’s an attack on the low paid, those entering the job market and the most vulnerable people in our society. It will damage the economy and the financial security of working families.

The General Election gave the SNP a mandate to oppose austerity and we will continue to do so at every opportunity. It’s time for Westminster to abandon its austerity obsession and to invest in the future by investing in public services.