Families using food banks this Christmas Day is a result of the “Dickensian impact” of welfare cuts, says the SNP.
Trussell Trust figures show that between April and September of this year more than 15,000 children have used a food bank in Scotland, with 48% of people blaming benefit cuts and delays.
Food banks are expecting a rise in demand over Christmas and will be open on Christmas Day.
The Child Poverty Action Group has estimated that by 2020 up to 100,000 more children will live poverty in Scotland, as a result of on-going tax and benefit changes.
SNP say proposals set out by the Smith Commission will leave key powers for tackling poverty and creating a fairer social security system at Westminster.
SNP Work and Pensions spokesperson Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP said: “It is a disgrace that in a country as wealthy as Scotland food banks will be open on Christmas Day and will be relied upon by families with children.
“Heartless Tory Ministers are cutting £6 billion from the incomes of the least well-off in Scotland and fully £1 billion of these cuts will directly impact on children – and we are now seeing the Dickensian impact of these cuts.
“But with both the Tories and Labour committed to further austerity and social security cuts, we face the prospect of 100,000 more children living in poverty by 2020.
“In the New Year Scotland will have an opportunity at the General Election to send a message to Westminster that the Scottish Parliament must have the powers it needs to tackle poverty and inequality.”
The Scottish Government has estimated the amount of money available to spend on welfare in Scotland next year will fall by £6 billion.
According to the SNP, more than 15,000 children in Scotland are forced to rely on food banks to survive as job seeking parents struggling to cope with benefit delays, suspensions and sanctions. 898,360 JSA and ESA sanctions were applied in the UK in 2013, say the SNP.
However, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said there was no “convincing evidence” linking benefit delays with food bank use.
This is despite new figures showing food bank use in Wales has increased by 20% over the last year, with families and Oxfam Cymru blaming a “perfect storm” of “benefit cuts, low wages, sanctions and insecure jobs”.
In the six months leading up to September 2014, Trussell Trust food banks in Wales fed 39,174 people with three days worth of emergency food aid, including more than 13,200 children – up 20% on the same period in 2013.
Families in crisis need to be referred to Trussell Trust food banks by frontline care professionals such as doctors, health visitors, the job centre, social workers, Citizens Advice Bureaux and police, before they can receive any help.
A DWP spokesperson said: “The reality is the vast majority of benefits are processed on time, with improvements being made year on year.
“And we continue to spend £94bn a year on working age benefits to ensure there is a strong safety net in place.”
Trussell Trust handed out 913,138 parcels consisting of three days worth of emergency food in 2013-14.
The public donated more than 8,300 tons of food in the last 12 months and 30,000 people volunteered at Trussell Trust food banks across the UK.