THE pictures shared widely on social media last week of hundreds of people queuing in bitterly cold weather for emergency food, just outside the City Chambers, are an indictment of the failure to tackle poverty and hunger in Scotland.

This is the impact of years of Tory cuts and their twisted ideological approach to “welfare reform”. Charities are stepping in because the state has abdicated from its duty to meet people’s most basic of needs. It’s wrong and we shouldn’t stand for it.

We can do better here, even with Scotland’s insufficient tax and borrowing powers. The launch this week of the new Scottish Child Payment shows what is possible – and points to what more can be done.

READ MORE: Glasgow councillors share growing anger over homelessness and food poverty in city

We know that so far, fewer than half of those who are eligible for the new payment have applied for it. And that’s not the only example of where the SNP’s rhetoric around tackling poverty is not matched by action on the ground.

We know, for instance, that a planned project in Glasgow to direct financial advice to lone parents and disabled people was quietly dropped by the SNP council at the start of the pandemic.

That’s on top of the cuts forced on vital anti-poverty services like Citizens Advice Bureau through the mismanagement of the Glasgow Communities Fund last year.

And we know that charities which deliver the Council’s school holiday food programme are desperately worried that children in large parts of the city, including my own Pollokshields ward, will go hungry because local organisations who have delivered the scheme successfully over the past two years have now been frozen out of funding.

Scottish Greens are making a strong case for universal anti-poverty measures as we emerge from the pandemic.

Nationally, we’re pushing for movement on a range of options, including a better pay deal for key workers, a Covid recovery uplift to the new child payment, and extending the previous Greens win on free under-19s bus travel so many more people could benefit from it.

The SNP could also clearly stump up its manifesto pledge to extend universal free school meals right now, rather than dangling it as a “jam tomorrow” election bribe.

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While the decision to freeze council tax – if that is agreed to – will be welcomed, let’s also be honest that it benefits the richest households the most, and the SNP has singularly failed to reform this most regressive and outdated of taxes.

Locally, it’s vital we strive to protect jobs, resist reductions in frontline services, guarantee the long-term future of vital local libraries and community centres, and invest in crumbling local infrastructure, from pavements to play parks, as well as continuing the path we started last year towards investing in a lower carbon future.

This year, of all years, we need spending plans to focus on supporting household incomes and the services communities rely on.