Young Scots on benefits are being forced to survive on less than £1 a day and are now being completely priced out of Edinburgh.

An investigation by Westminster’s Social Security Advisory Committee (SSAC) found there were no properties available in the city at all which young people on Universal Credit (UC) could afford.

A report from the committee also found that under 25s were four times as likely to be sanctioned and left with no income. Care leavers were five times as likely to be sanctioned.

The committee, which provides independent advice to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), examined the way the benefits system often fails many of the 300,000 16-24 year olds who live independently. The report says that many have no choice but to live away from their “family home”, either because they lack close family, grew up in care or because might otherwise be at risk of violence or abuse.

While many are grateful for support from the benefits system, they often face severe financial pressure and poverty, the report says. Young adults receive 26 per cent less in basic allowance than over 25s, and all under 35s receive only enough housing benefit to pay for a room in shared accommodation.

But in some areas just one per cent of vacant rooms are affordable and available to young people on benefit, the report says. In Edinburgh, Lewisham, Bromley and Bristol, a snapshot survey revealed no rooms within the price range allowed, except from landlords who said they did not welcome benefit claimants.

The report claims under 25s on benefits have a far lower income than other groups such as students, apprentices and workers on the minimum wage. But by the time they have paid for accommodation and heating, some young people in such situations were left without enough to buy even inexpensive clothes. The Committee said: “We heard about several young people in such situations who were left with just £20 a month for food. The reality of this is that they may have to draw on hardship funds, use food banks, rely on friends, or skip meals altogether.” Some also turn to loan sharks, or to crime, the report says.

Meanwhile a struggle to afford accommodation and measures such as sanctions are not effective ways to support people to find employment, the report suggests.

It recommends the DWP gives young people more help to access funds and support they may be entitled to. The committee said a yellow card system should be introduced before young people are sanctioned and the department should also demonstrate how it believes young people living independently can afford basic living costs on the shared accommodation rate.

Paul Gray, Committee Chair said: “Many of the young people living independently have not made a choice to do so. No-one could reasonably argue that those leaving care or at risk of abuse at home should be disadvantaged by the benefit system for circumstances outside of their control.”

Dr Jim McCormick, Scotland member of the SSAC, said many of its findings were for the DWP, but the Scottish Government could also do more including looking at the availability of longer term housing.

A DWP spokesperson said: “We want young people to get off to the best start in life. The majority of young people are better off living at home until they are able to financially support themselves, but there are special measures in place for people who don’t have that option.

“Budgeting support is available to everyone on UC, as well as direct payments to landlords for people who aren’t able to handle their rent payments.”