A new inquiry by MSPs is to “dig deeper” into the stigma suffered by Scots living in poverty.
Members of Holyrood’s Cross-Party Group on Poverty are to carry out the work, and are keen hear from those affected about their experiences.
It follows academics telling how stigma can portray those on low incomes as being “undeserving” of support.
This stigma can then be linked to mental health and lower levels of wellbeing, the cross-party group was told.
It comes as the UK’s cost of living surged by 5.4% in the 12 months to December, the biggest jump for 30 years.
Pam Duncan-Glancy, the deputy convenor of the cross-party group, said: “Stigma is not only unfair and causes real pain for people, it stops people accessing the essential support they need. That traps people in poverty.
“People in Scotland living in poverty need support and action, not blame and suspicion. They have seen far too little support for far too long.
“If we’re to reduce poverty in Scotland, we have to end the stigma of it, and take down all barriers to getting support.
“I am pleased the Cross-Party Group on Poverty have created an opportunity to dig deeper on this. This will give us a clearer idea of how to break down barriers – and empower people to speak up and reach out when they require support.”
Meanwhile, campaigner Peter Kelly, director of the Poverty Alliance, stated: “Too many people living on low incomes across Scotland face challenges and barriers because of the stigma associated with poverty.
“This can impact on the kind of support people are able to access, the treatment by public services, the media and the wider public and, most importantly, on individual mental health and wellbeing.
“The Cross-Party Group on Poverty’s new inquiry offers the opportunity to explore some of the drivers of poverty-related stigma as well as, importantly, what the solutions are.
“Critical to the success of the inquiry will be the involvement of people with experience of poverty, who will help shape the inquiry’s findings and key recommendations.”