THE PREMIER insisted that continuing the Â£ 20 increase in universal credit is ‘no longer appropriate’ – despite warnings, the move will push thousands of Scottish households into poverty.
Boris Johnson will deliver his speech at the Conservative Party conference on Wednesday, the same day his government slashes a weekly Â£ 20 increase in universal credit.
The Prime Minister highlighted his party’s strategy of getting people to work in an effort to lift them out of poverty – but this contradicts research suggesting that up to 40% of Scots who have universal credit have a job, but not earning enough.
Mr Johnson was pressed for the cut in universal credit on the Andrew Marr Show.
He said: ‘What you are seeing in this country right now is a country emerging from a pandemic in which the state has had to spend Â£ 407 billion to look after people’s livelihoods.
âThere is a whole set of measures ranging from time off to repay loans to increasing Covid (universal credit) that are no longer appropriate. ”
Mr Johnson added: ‘What you are seeing instead is record job creation, you are seeing faster growth than anywhere in the G7, two million less unemployment and what this government thinks. is that this is the way to go. ”
The Prime Minister asserted that âlow-income people are better paidâ after seeing âwage growth after 10 years of stagnationâ.
Data from the Office for National Statistics show that in real terms, “total and regular compensation is now increasing at a faster rate than inflation.”
But the study warns that the analysis “should be interpreted with caution” given the fluctuations in the labor market and the economy at large during the pandemic.
Mr Johnson said the Â£ 407 billion spent by his government on emergency funding during the pandemic “was most beneficial for the poorest and most needy in society”.
But the prime minister said he opposed “unnecessary” tax hikes that would potentially fund more support.
Asked to rule out further tax hikes, Mr Johnson said: ‘You don’t have a fiercer and more zealous opponent of unnecessary tax hikes than I do, but we have had to deal with a pandemic of a scale that this country has never seen in our lifetime and long before.
He added: “If I can avoid it, I don’t want to raise taxes again, of course not, neither does Rishi Sunak.”
In his speech to the Conservative Party conference today, Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross will accuse Nicola Sturgeon of having “cut loose from working class communities” and of being “out of touch”.
Speaking on the BBC’s Sunday Show, Mr Ross was asked to justify the comments, given that his party is on the verge of cutting Universal Credit.
He said: âIt was the Conservatives who introduced this temporary increase at the height of the pandemic.
âWe are still dealing with Covid but the worst is hopefully behind us. It is right that we reassess and review the measures in place to protect people and support them in the future. ”
Mr Ross pointed to the Â£ 500million pledged by the UK government to help those most in need survive the winter months, as energy prices also rise. The Scottish government will receive Â£ 41million in funding.
But a former Conservative chief and architect of Universal Credit has called on the UK government to postpone the cut until next year.
Sir Iain Duncan Smith told Sky News’ Trevor on Sunday: âI think it’s the right thing to maintain this investment in Universal Credit. It was a huge success.
âOf all the things that went wrong during the pandemic, universal credit was the one thing that went quietly and helped support people without having to queue at employment centers. ”
He added: “Even if the government is determined to do it, I would urge them to think about it during the winter time, not now, think about it in February, March, as the budget approaches, when they know. what is the cost of living, when they know what inflation is, when they know what the market difficulties are.
âFar better to wait and see where we are because we know that things are moving in the wrong direction in these terms and that it will affect the poorest in society the most. We have to make sure we keep the supports for them. ”