George Osborne's decision to abandon his plan to restore government finances to a surplus by 2020 is the "final nail in the coffin" of the Chancellor and Prime Minister's "failed" austerity plan, trade union leaders and Scottish politicians have said.

Osborne has said that given the effects of the Brexit vote, the UK Government had to be "realistic about achieving a surplus by the end of the decade" as he announced he was scrapping the target that had been his and David Cameron's most prized goal and the driving force behind the austerity Tory budgets.

Opposition parties said the u-turn marked the demise of the political project pursued by Cameron and Osborne since they first came to power in 2010, and branded the plan as six years of failure and economic misrule.

Labour MSP Neil Findlay said the strategy of the coalition led by Cameron from 2010 and the majority Tory government that succeeded it last year, had led to an increase in poverty and joblessness during their time in power.

Findlay said: "Cameron's brand of austerity politics pushed by him and Osborne, pretending to be One Nation Tories whilst appeasing the far right of the Tory party and Ukip, has failed and led the country into social division and an economic shambles.

"His will be a legacy of a divided Britain with increasing poverty and inequality."

Osborne and Cameron repeatedly claimed their economic plan was working, with the Chancellor taking about "fixing the roof while the sun is shining".

However, SNP Glasgow South West MP Chris Stephens said that Cameron and Osborne had sought to cut their way to economic growth, which he claimed had led to a surge in food bank use for among workers.

Stephens, speaking yesterday during a visit to a food bank in his constituency, said that the chancellor's announcement of a shift in approach represented the end of 'Cameronism and Osborneism'.

He said: "David Cameron and George Osborne sought to cut their way out of economic difficulty rather than investing in people. The examples of Ireland and Greece, with the huge economic difficulties show what happens when you cut too far.

"We've ended up with a huge increase in food bank use and massive in-work poverty, with food bank use from people in employment."

Maggie Chapman, the Scottish Greens’ co-convener, echoing the criticism, said: "George Osborne has caused enormous damage to the lives of millions of people, to the UK economy and to our future. He has done this based on the deeply flawed quasi-economic theory of austerity.

"I hope both he and David Cameron use their remaining time in office to recognise that they shamefully failed to make any attempt to transition to a sustainable green economy that prioritises fair pay and investment in low-carbon industry.

"While I’m pleased that austerity is on a break, most of us will watch the Tory leadership closely for clues as to what economic policies might next be inflicted upon Scotland.”

Trade union leaders said Cameron and Osborne's approach had failed to boost jobs and industry, while leading to a sharp decline in living standards.

John Park, assistant general secretary of the Community union, said: "The lack of any real proactive industrial intervention by Cameron and Osborne has undermined the creation of good quality employment across the UK.

"This has led to an explosion in low paid insecure jobs which provide little opportunity for those in them and hurt our economic performance."

Scottish Trades Union Congress, deputy general secretary, Dave Moxham, added: "The six years of the failed Cameron and Osborne project has seen the UK Government preside over misery for the low paid.

"Our members and others will see this as the final nail in the coffin of Cameron and Osborne, but there will be fears about what's to come as those that those inherit their positions have been strong supporters of austerity."