Glasgow is the Scottish city worst hit by the benefit cap since the policy was announced a decade ago, according to a new analysis carried out by the SNP using official UK Government figures.

The party's researchers found 4,936 households in the country's largest city have had their housing benefit or Universal Credit cut as a result of the measure designed by the Conservative Government to bring down public spending.

Glasgow is followed by Edinburgh with 4,183 households hit and Fife with 1,867 households directly affected by benefit cuts.

North Lanarkshire was the fourth worst affected area, with 1,490 households seeing their benefits reduced, while Aberdeen and South Lanarkshire were the fifth and sixth areas most badly affected by the policy with 1,420 and 1,280 households hit respectively. 

READ MORE: Labour's Rutherglen candidate told to 'come clean' over benefit cap

The figures are for the total number of households in each area which have seen their benefits cut up until February this year, which is when the most current statistics are available.

The SNP has been campaigning against the Conservatives' benefit cap, which reduces the total amount of financial support families can get, and in recent weeks its politicians have been arguing that Labour would do little the change the UK Government's approach if Sir Keir Starmer's party wins power at the general election due before the end of next year.

It is also a message being underlined by SNP on the by-election campaign trail in Rutherglen and Hamilton West where the party's candidate Katy Loudon is hoping to hold onto the seat won by the SNP in 2019 and 2015 against a challenge from Labour's Michael Shanks. Labour took the seat in the 2017 general election. 

The by-election is expected this October and follows the ousting of the former SNP MP Margaret Ferrier in a recall petition last week after she was suspended from the Commons for breaching Covid rules. She sat as an independent MP after losing the party whip over her lockdown breaches in 2020.

Last month Sir Keir was forced to admit a Labour Government would keep the Conservatives' bedroom tax and two-child cap, which the SNP say has pushed more than 20,000 Scottish children into poverty.

Labour previously opposed the two-child cap, but Sir Keir has suggested he would keep the controversial policy in place if he becomes the next prime minister in a bid to ensure his government didn't overspend. Anti-poverty charities and some within Scottish Labour have criticised Sir Keir’s support of the policy.

READ MORE: Labour demand SNP set earliest date for key by-election - October 5

At Labour's by-election campaign launch in Rutherglen last Wednesday Mr Shanks insisted he will campaign against the two-child benefit cap and the bedroom tax even if they are backed by the UK party.

The SNP's analysis of figures from the UK's Department for Work and Pensions found that overall the benefit cap had left the poorest families in Scotland more than £70million worse off since 2013. 

It added that 28,188 households in Scotland have seen their housing benefit or Universal Credit payments reduced as a result of the policy, including 24,546 households with children.

The analysis shows that on average impacted families in Scotland lose £50 a month as a result of the measure.

In addition, the research shows that the rate of the benefit cap has fallen significantly behind inflation, meaning Scottish households subject to the cap are now significantly worse off in real terms than they were when the policy was first introduced.

The annual UK Government benefit cap for Scotland is currently £14,753 for a single person and £20,200 for a family. 

READ MORE: Labour's Michael Shanks says independence supporters are rejecting SNP

If the level of the cap had instead kept pace with CPI inflation, it would be £17,233 for a single person and £25,720 for a family. It means single people in Scotland are £2,479 worse off a year, and families are £5,520 worse off a year, due to the cap not keeping pace with inflation.

The analysis also shows that the Scottish Government has spent more than half a billion pounds (£608million) mitigating the Tory benefit cap, the bedroom tax and the local housing allowance freeze since 2014, with £84million spent from the Scottish Government budget this year alone to mitigate these cuts. 

SNP Women and Equalities spokeswoman Kirsten Oswald MP said: "Damaging Tory and Labour Party policies are cutting the incomes of thousands of working families across Scotland, who are struggling to make ends meet with their squeezed wages in broken Brexit Britain.

"It's shameful that Sir Keir Starmer wants to continue imposing these cruel Tory cuts against Scotland's will - showing the pro-Brexit Labour Party is indistinguishable from the Tories.

"The SNP is the only party offering real opposition to Tory cuts - and a fairer society with independence. In contrast, Sunak and Starmer are making this Westminster-made cost of living crisis even worse by imposing Brexit and austerity cuts to household incomes.

"The Tory benefits cap must be scrapped. At the next election, voting SNP is the only way to secure independence, tackle the cost of living and escape Westminster control for good with independence."

At Labour's by-election campaign launch last week Mr Shanks described the two-child benefit cap as a "heinous" policy and said he would vote to abolish it if he wins the most votes in the by-election.

He also said he was opposed to the bedroom tax, another welfare policy members of the UK Labour party have refused to rule out keeping if they are elected to govern.

Asked why he was seeking election within a party that has said it will not remove the cap, Mr Shanks replied it was committed to other reforms of benefits that would put more money in people's pockets.

"I'll be fighting for a whole suite of measures to lift people out of poverty like Labour did when they were last in government," he said.

On the subject of the bedroom tax, Mr Shanks said he was opposed to that policy as well but suggested Labour might be unable to get rid of it while trying to balance the books, should the party win power.

"I don't think the bedroom tax is a good idea and I would be campaigning against that," he said.

"But the reality is we're going to inherit an economic mess from the Conservative party and it's right that an incoming Labour government is responsible with fiscal policy. We can't just announce spending commitments before we've decided where the money would come from."

Scottish Labour and the Scottish Conservatives were approached for comment.