IN the past few weeks, the UK Chancellor announced his Budget.

As it stands, the Scottish Government’s block grant – the money we have to invest in day-to-day public services – remains almost £2billion lower in real terms than it was when the Tories first came to office in 2010/11.

The Chancellor might claim austerity is over but it is clear we are still being hit by Westminster-imposed cuts to Scotland’s budget.

The Tories could have ended austerity if they so wished but they have chosen not to.

The changes announced to Universal Credit do not go far enough and, with foodbank use across Scotland rising by 15 per cent in the past year, it is time the Tories halted the rollout of Universal Credit and took serious action to fix the flaws in the system.

Recipients waiting five weeks, and sometimes longer, for payments is causing them to turn to foodbanks.

Senior officials from the Department for Work and Pensions also admitted to a Scottish Parliament committee that a significant number of people will be left financially worse off by the new system.

If Tory ministers won’t listen to the advice of charities or even their own officials, who exactly will they listen to?

Even one of their own MSPs has now warned the UK Tory Government of the damaging impact the rollout is having on people’s lives.

Tory MPs are also rebelling against welfare cuts and calling for an end to the shambles.

It is unacceptable that, in the modern day, thousands of people need to rely on charities to feed their children, while they wait weeks for the social security payments they are entitled to.

There was also little in this Budget to boost public services. The SNP Scottish Government has already set out our plans to support the NHS in the years to come and the funding we have received as a result of health spending in England will go to our Scottish NHS – but, so far, the UK Government has fallen at least £50million short of what it promised Scotland only a few months ago.

The reality of this Budget is that Scotland continues to be hit by Tory austerity and broken promises.

I have consistently argued for a better settlement for Scotland but this Budget does not reflect that.

On Wednesday, December 12, I will announce the Scottish Budget for the year ahead.

I am also keen to highlight Living Wage Week, which I marked by visiting Quarriers, in my constituency, to celebrate them becoming an accredited Living Wage employer.

We now have more than 40 accredited Living Wage employers in Renfrewshire.

I am committed to using the Scottish Government’s new Fair Work First strategy to make payment of the Living Wage a condition of even more public contracts and government support grants.

As the Scottish Living Wage increases to £9 per hour, I commend all employers who are accredited and encourage other businesses and organisations to follow suit by recognising the benefits of paying the real Living Wage.