Like the NHS, the welfare state is there for all of us in our time of need.

It provides security and dignity in retirement and the basics in life should we become sick or disabled, or fall on hard times.

But poverty in Scotland is rising due to SNP and Tory attempts to balance the books on the backs of the poorest, slashing funding to public services and to social security payments.

The Daily Record has been at the forefront of efforts to highlight the reality of the situation facing ­countless families in Scotland today.

It’s time for those in power to listen.

The Tories need to listen to the warnings from ­Citizens Advice Scotland, which found that in areas where the new Universal Credit has been ­introduced, there has been a 15 per cent rise in rent arrears issues.

Universal Credit is supposed to make access to social ­security payments less complicated. But there is a six-week waiting period for payments at the start of the process, and that risks pushing more people into poverty.

My colleague Alex Rowley has written to the Tory minister in charge of the system, David Gauke, to demand the roll-out of Universal Credit is halted.

But I fear that the Conservatives won’t listen.

They didn’t listen to Labour when we urged them to exempt lone parents from the new benefits cap level of £20,000 per household.

The result is that two-thirds of capped claimants in Scotland are single parents – nearly all single mothers. The Tories are pushing more children into poverty by punishing them for their parents’ circumstances.

Theresa May’s Government are also forcing tens of ­thousands of people who receive ­Disability Living Allowance across the UK to go through cruel ­assessments for new Personal ­Independence Payments (PIP).

Labour want to end these cruel and inhumane assessments that have piled misery on vulnerable Scots.

The Vow, published in this paper before the independence ­referendum and fully delivered after the vote, means we can now use Holyrood’s social security powers to do things differently.

We will be able to end the ­assessments but the SNP decided last year to ask the Tory ­Government to retain responsibility for certain benefits in Scotland until 2020.

That decision to delay the powers means 130,000 Scots will be assessed under the current system. It is a dereliction of duty from the SNP and shows that Nicola Sturgeon is not serious when she promises to take a different approach to the Tories.

It was reported at the weekend that she plans to “reboot” her campaign for independence. Yet breaking up the UK would lead to turbo-charged austerity and inflict even more hardship on working families.

With the powers of the Scottish Parliament we can make different, fairer choices to those of a Tory government. That’s what Labour would do.

And at the next general election we can get rid of the Conservatives and elect a government that works for the many, not the few, across the entire United Kingdom.

This article first appeared in the Daily Record newspaper on the 1st of August 2017.

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