WHEN Humza Yousaf became First Minister, it was obvious that he faced a mountain of challenges – not least within his own party.

However, it is clear that the most pressing challenge for the people of Scotland is the cost-of-living crisis and growing levels of poverty.

Just last week, it was revealed by the Trussell Trust that nearly 300,000 food parcels had been distributed in Scotland from April 2022 to March 2023.

Comparing that use to years gone by, that’s an incredible increase of 30% on the previous year and a 50% increase in just five years.

Of the thousands of people using Trussell Trust foodbanks, 62,000 were using them for the first time in the last 12 months.

Of course, the reckless economic management provided by the Tories has caused much pain in our communities over their time in government but it is also undeniable that Scotland has a SNP government that has simply failed to use all of the levers it has had at its disposable – and poverty in Scotland has worsened.

Mr Yousaf declared that his way of addressing the pressing poverty crisis was to host an Anti-Poverty Summit, to which he would invite other stakeholders.

Of course, Scottish Labour will always work constructively with other parties to find every measure possible to tackle poverty – and that is why Anas Sarwar attended this summit.

The troubling thing for Scotland is that this summit was Mr Yousaf’s big idea on poverty.

After so many years in government, instead of being able to point to policies or announce new ones to drastically reduce poverty, the SNP are merely proposing another conversation about how to do it.

It really is vital that, in the weeks to come, we hear that some very tangible policies have come out of the summit – otherwise it would be fair to conclude it has just been another staged SNP photo op that was all about talking and not acting.

If bold and effective ideas do come out of this summit, the Scottish Government must show the resolve to act on them, not shy away from them or insist they can’t be done because Scotland isn’t independent.

People across Scotland are crying out for change and it is clear that we need a Labour government in the UK to boot out the morally-bankrupt Tories and make things better.

What is clear is that a Labour government would be a government that would act to reduce poverty, just as we have done in the past.

The last Labour government lifted 2.4 million people out of poverty, including almost one million children.

Policies such as a robust windfall tax across the UK to help keep people’s bills down and, here in Scotland, making public transport more affordable, scrapping school meal arrears and providing help for households with a £100 water bill rebate are just a few ideas that could make a real difference.

The SNP must start to take responsibility for their lack of action.

Scottish Labour are ready to be the change Scotland needs.