THIS week was Challenge Poverty Week, when campaigners highlight the inequalities that exist and barriers people face as they try to overcome them.

The inequalities are many and are growing. The covid pandemic gets the blame for a lot but poverty was there before it and will be there after it unless serious action is taken to end it.

It is a week when people who are working all year round to try and alleviate poverty and campaign for practical solutions highlight the seriousness of the situation and the need for radical interventions.

The problem may be complex and multi -faceted but the bottom line is simple.

People need to have more money to live on.

Whether they are in a job, full-time or part time, countless people in this situation need to be paid more.

People who are working, if the minimum wage legislation was working in their interests, would not need to rely on Universal Credit or any other state support.

In-work benefits is a subsidy to employers who are paying low wages.

A start would be increasing the national minimum wage to the Real Living Wage for all workers regardless of age.

If people are not in work or are unable to work then the social security system needs to be at an adequate enough level to allow people to afford the basics of food, heat, travel and clothes they need to live.

Sadly, that is not the case.

If was the case there would have been no real need to introduce the temporary £20 a week uplift to Universal Credit last year.

It was an admission that the level of benefit universal credit offers is not enough to allow people to feed themselves, their family and heat their home.

The uplift should be permanent, then there could be less reliance of food banks.

The Scottish Government is committed to doubling the Scottish child payment from £10 a week to £20 a week.

The pledge earlier this year was that it would be done in the lifetime of this Parliament, which runs until 2026.

The First Minister has said recently it would be increased “sooner rather than later”.

Sooner, is little comfort to a mum wondering if there is enough gas or electricity to last the month, that sometime in the future there might be another £10 a week coming in, First Minister.

Sooner doesn’t help the dad walking to a foodbank because he can’t afford the £4 it would cost in bus fares, First Minister.

At the same time as Challenge Poverty Week was taking place, The £20 uplift was scrapped taking more than £80 a week from the budgets of the poorest people in the country and also those who relied on it as a top up to help provide a half decent standard of living.

It is “no longer appropriate” said the Prime Minister.

‘We want people into work, not on universal credit’ said the Prime Minister.

Millions of those on universal credit are in work, Prime Minister.

Around 3.5 million families across the UK, who have someone in a job will be affected by the £20 a week cut.

That is more families in work affected, than the 2 million without someone in work who are affected.

It shows how hollow the phrase ‘making work pay’ that was used to sell universal credit to the nation actually was.

Instead, Prime Minister, millions are in work that is insecure, exploitative and low paid as a result of the inadequate and age discriminatory National Minimum Wage and employment laws that you could change, to work for the employees instead of the employers.

Foodbanks are worried that they are about to enter a new period of increased demand.

People who are struggling will continue to struggle and high tide of poverty we have seen for the last decade and more is about to rise even further dragging thousands more under.

Raising food costs in supermarkets, rising petrol prices and gas and electric suppliers taking more out of the pockets of people in jobs.

Our governments need to ask if they are doing all they can to ensure more people are not pushed further into poverty and those already suffering are not punished even more.

Of the 5.5 million households affected by the cut, 2.6million have children and 2.8million include someone who is disabled.

There doesn’t seem to be much hope of ‘levelling up’ for them, another hollow phrase.

Of course, the governments at Westminster and Holyrood found money during the pandemic to try and avert a complete economic catastrophe.

And there will need to be a readjustment to steady public finances.

But the answer should not and cannot be another round of the brutal austerity visited on the country by Cameron and Osborne when they took office under the guise of reducing the deficit.

Then, for years, people on the lowest incomes were forced to pay the price for the mistakes of others.

They must not be expected to pay the price for the fact that government had to dig deep to spend to cope with a global pandemic.