Tory welfare cuts will put a record 5.2 million children into poverty over the next five years, new research from the Institute for Fiscal Studies has said.

The research predicts that the UK government’s damaging austerity agenda will not only undo any progress made over the last 20 years to reduce child poverty, but actually make things worse – hitting the most deprived areas hardest.

The IFS also predicts a widening of the gap between rich and poor and a further four years of weak income growth.

This follows reports last week that Scottish councils are already setting aside millions to mitigate the damage caused by Universal Credit – diverting resources from other front-line services.

Author of the IFS report Tom Waters specifically highlighted the family cap as a contributing factor, commenting:

“…The larger projected rises occur in areas where families with children are more reliant on benefits than earnings for their income, and where more families are likely to be adversely affected by the new two-child limit on means-tested benefits.”

SNP MSP Ruth Maguire, who sits on Holyrood’s Social Security committee said:

“To put it into perspective – this IFS research shows that there will be more children living in poverty by 2021-22 than there are people in the whole of Scotland. It is shameful that this is the case in one of the G7 countries – the largest advanced economies in the world.

Over the next five years, Tory welfare cuts will leave 37% of all children in poverty – the highest percentage since modern records began in 1961.

Theresa May came to Downing Street saying her main objective was to help those “just about managing” and to tackle “burning injustices” – not only is she failing in this, her government’s policies are actually worsening, not progressing, the fight against child poverty.

We simply cannot afford to let the Tories continued austerity stall the progress we’ve made in reducing child poverty and instead plunge more children in Scotland into poverty – letting the poor get poorer and the rich get richer. The Tories’ cuts need to be reversed urgently.”