A Renfrewshire MP has called for immediate action from the UK Government as new analysis shows the UK suffers from the worst levels of poverty of any neighbouring country, and has done for almost all of the past twenty years.

The study by the independent House of Commons Library has revealed that the UK has the highest poverty rate of every country in north west Europe, with 11.7% of people living in relative poverty under the internationally accepted definition.

This puts the UK in a worse position than all thirteen neighbouring countries, with Scandinavian countries leading the way in tackling inequality.

Gavin Newlands, MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire North, said the shocking statistics showed the UK isn’t working.

The news comes as the Chancellor’s plans to slash Universal Credit payments by over £1,000 a year from this September, despite the economic impact of the COVID pandemic still making its presence felt.

The figures, using official OECD data, show that the UK has had the worst or second-worst poverty rate in every single year since UK data was first recorded in 2002.

Mr Newland said: “The UK is suffering from a growing Tory poverty crisis – with the worst levels of any country in north west Europe.

“Rishi Sunak’s plans to slash Universal Credit payments by £1040 a year for six million families, and impose a public sector pay freeze, will inevitably make this crisis even worse and push more people into hardship and deprivation. There must be an urgent U-turn.

“The fact that the UK has been at the bottom of the European poverty league for nearly 20 years running is a terrible indictment on successive UK Governments and their failure to ensure our society is fairer and more prosperous.

“For every step we take forward to tackle poverty in Scotland, Westminster is dragging us backwards again with Tory cuts. The SNP government is putting money into people’s pockets with progressive policies like the Scottish Child Payment but Tory cuts to Universal Credit will effectively cancel this out – wiping out progress we’ve made.

“The cold hard reality is there will be no fair recovery at Westminster. The only way to keep Scotland safe from Tory cuts and build a fairer society is to become an independent country, with the full powers needed to secure a strong, fair and equal recovery and eradicate poverty.”

Main Photo: Gavin Newlands speaking in parliament  from home via video link1st July 2021