Martin Whitfield MSP has condemned the SNP’s abandonment of Scotland’s rural communities after new figures show rural poverty has increased dramatically since the party came to power.

Since 2007 the number of households in poverty in rural Scotland has soared by around 50 per cent, rising more than twice as fast as the national average.

This sharp increase has pushed an extra 150,000 households into relative poverty and 50,000 households into severe poverty.

These astonishing figures come amid scrutiny of the SNP’s record on rural policy, which has become central to the growing divisions within the party.

Commenting, Martin Whitfield MSP said:

“These shocking figures show how badly rural Scotland has been let down and abandoned by the SNP. Years of mismanagement and neglect has pushed thousands of people into poverty and left rural communities suffering and on the brink.

“Local services have been cut to the bone and lifeline transport links allowed to fall into complete disarray, and the worst off are paying the harshest price. I have seen for myself the impact of this rising poverty, with foodbanks and similar initiatives now operating in rural communities where they had never been needed in the past.

“All parts of Scotland are being badly failed by the SNP Scottish Government, but the impact of their neglect is particularly acute in rural areas. Ministers must set out a real plan to tackle poverty and revitalise rural communities.”