After more than three years of debate that was vigorous, increasingly divisive and, for most, exhausting, the outcome of the General Election has now provided clarity on whether we will leave the European Union. The Conservative Party in England and Wales have, with a clear proposition on Brexit, made gains in places and communities that were previously thought to be out of bounds. Voters in Scotland have not followed the same path, but they too will be governed by a UK Government that will press ahead with Brexit.

But when Brexit is finally ‘done’, what next? What can we say – based on the Conservative manifesto and the Queen’s Speech - about the new government’s policies in relation to the issues of poverty and inequality?

The Prime Minister has already started referring to the ‘People’s Government’, reflecting a desire to be seen to be governing for all. However, if he is to retain the support of the communities where his party has made gains, he needs to deliver on more than just Brexit.

The constituencies that the Conservatives won in the north of England contain many of those communities that have borne the biggest impacts of the austerity policies of the last decade. They are communities that have experienced cuts in public services, that have been hardest hit by the freeze on social security benefits and where insecure work has become the norm for too many.

Whilst Brexit was the thread that ran through the Tory manifesto, there was a gaping hole in the manifesto where we would have expected detailed social security plans. Commitments to continue to roll out Universal Credit and to end the benefits freeze next year were included, but this effectively means more of the same for people living on low incomes. Indeed, the Queen’s Speech made no mention at all of the social security system.

Yet it has been Universal Credit, and particularly the five-week wait for first Universal Credit payments, that has driven the growth of foodbanks in Scotland. With no change of direction on Universal Credit we can expect more people being forced to rely on food banks in the future. Maintaining this approach to social security means that the new Government will implement another £3.8 billion worth of cuts to social security. The end result? More children and families swept into poverty in the coming years.

And it is not just about social security. Low pay and insecure work are increasingly what locks people into poverty, and two-thirds of children living in poverty in Scotland are in working households. Here, the Conservatives’ promise to progressively increase the rate of the statutory ‘National Living Wage’ to £10.50 by 2024 is welcome. However, earlier promises to raise the National Living Wage to median earnings by 2020 were not delivered.

On security of work, the Queen’s Speech offered little prospect of further protection for those on insecure contracts beyond the right to request ‘a more predictable contract’. More robust action on forms of employment – like zero hours contracts - that tighten the grip of poverty on families will be required if the new government is to deliver a labour market based on dignity and respect.

On areas like social security and employment, it would appear that the new government’s approach will only serve to reinforce the injustice of our current system; tightening rather than loosening the grip of poverty. But the new Prime Minister has promised an end to austerity and previously talked of the need to ‘look after the poorest’ and give ‘everyone a fair chance in life.’

If Boris Johnson wants to lead a genuine ‘People’s Government’, he must signal a genuine change of direction. He must listen to people who are using social security or struggling to get by on poverty pay, and then act. It is only by doing this that he can deliver for those who have been the hardest hit over the last 10 years.

In Scotland, we need to decide how to respond to policies that are likely to more people locked into poverty. The Scottish Government has made clear its commitment to use its social security powers to tackle poverty. This is welcome, but we need to use these powers to their fullest, as well as taking more action to reduce the cost of living for people caught up in the rising tide of poverty. Where we can show more ambition in Scotland we must, and where we can go further we should.

We are a compassionate country. We see it in the actions of grassroots groups and organisations that come together to help people struggling to get by, or the thousands of volunteers that support Citizens Advice Bureaux, food banks or homeless people. Across civil society we will need more demonstrations of solidarity and compassion in the years to come. It is through these acts of compassion that we can demonstrate the need for social policies based on justice.

But more importantly, we need the UK Government to listen. With child poverty levels projected to increase rapidly, we simply cannot go on the way we are. The lives and life chances of millions of people across our communities depend on the government charting a different course.