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I have called on the UK Government to commit to maintaining the £20 increase to Universal Credit, rather than penalising families already struggling due to the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

The Tory Government is facing growing criticism over its plans to cut Universal Credit for six million people. Last week Parliament voted by 278 votes to nil to oppose the cut after Tory MPs were ordered to abstain.

A Survation poll carried out in December revealed that 54% of those polled wanted the £20 boost to Universal Credit to be extended, including 40% of Conservative supporters.

I wish I could say I was surprised that the UK Government would even consider slashing the incomes of six million people in the middle of an economic crisis and global pandemic, but they have shown time and again that they cannot be trusted to stand up for families in Scotland. Now is the time to be supporting people who are struggling, not plunging them further into financial difficulties.

If the Tories go ahead with their cuts to these essential benefits, they will push millions of people into hardship and poverty at the worst possible time. Boris must change his mind on this – as he has done on so many important policies over the past year.

The £20 uplift to Universal Credit must be made permanent and extended to legacy benefits, as part of a wider package to boost incomes and mitigate the damage done by a decade of Tory cuts which has been compounded by the global pandemic.

The SNP Government has led the way in tackling poverty, with new benefits like the Scottish Child Payment, but this progress is being severely undermined by Tory cuts that have repeatedly taken money out of people's pockets.

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