THE Tories suffered a major defeat over their plans to roll out Universal Credit, after SNP and Labour MPs teamed up to vote against the Government.

Opposition MPs delivered a symbolic victory by backing a Labour-led motion to pause Universal Credit, after a vote was forced in the Commons. The Conservatives whipped their MPs to abstain, a move criticised by senior Tory Sarah Wollaston.

The motion asking for the Government to halt the roll-out of its flagship welfare reforms, which is non-binding on ministers, was approved by 299 votes to zero, with Wollaston the only Tory MP rebelling against the whip by voting in favour.

The vote came after more than five hours of debate which saw fierce criticism of Universal Credit’s roll-out from the Opposition benches, including claims it has been a “shambles” and “idiotic”.

The Commons was once again the scene of a barnstorming speech by the SNP’s Mhairi Black, who said rolling out Universal Credit as it stands is at worst “callous” and at best “arrogant and idiotic”.

Black said one in four new claimants had to wait more than six weeks to be paid, which was “staggeringly alarming”, and urged the Government to halt the welfare reforms.

She said the offer of an advanced payment to help was nothing more than a loan that had to be repaid, claiming it was creating a burden on claimants and forcing them to deal with a problem that is “not their fault in the first place”.

The Paisley and Renfrewshire South MP accused the Government of acting like a “pious loan shark – except that instead of coming through your front door they are coming after your mental health, your physical wellbeing, your stability, your sense of security – that is what the experience is for all of our constituents”.

Black said: “Plunging people into debt does not incentivise work, forcing people into hunger does not incentivise work, causing anxiety and distress and even evicting some families from their homes does not incentivise work.

“Now the good news is that every single person sitting in this chamber just now has the power to change this tonight. So listen to us – like I said, we’re not making this up, because I tell you something: this Government has absolutely no excuse for pushing ahead with this reform after today.

“Halt it, and halt it now.”

Labour MP after Labour MP stood up to criticise the Government’s flagship welfare policy, revealing a series of horror stories from their constituencies.

l Catherine McKinnell (Newcastle upon Tyne North) said since the full roll-out of Universal Credit across all three job centres in Newcastle in March it had possibly doubled the work of her case workers and other local agencies.

She said: “It has been nothing short of a shambles. To roll it out any further without dealing with some of its fundamental failures will just roll out misery for thousands more people.”

l Anna McMorrin (Cardiff North) said: “The reality is that this accelerated and aggressive roll-out will see an increase in debt, rental arrears, foodbank usage and homelessness. People struggling to make ends meet with real-life consequences.”

l Sarah Jones (Croydon Central) said primary school numbers in Croydon are going down as a “direct result of the implementation of Universal Credit”, adding: “The damage this programme has had on our town has meant families are leaving because they cannot afford to stay.”

l Rosie Duffield (Canterbury) said: “I know personally how hard it is to raise my children on my own whilst on benefits, and I know what it is like to be in debt.

“I have lived with the reality of having to feed my children while knowing that any money coming in is already owed to someone else.

“What a shame the member for Gloucester wasn’t a fan of the last Labour government’s life-changing tax credits system.

“I assure him that those of us who were dependent on that system to feed our children most certainly were.”

l Karen Lee (Lincoln) said Universal Credit must be halted, adding: “It’s a direct and deliberate attack on the poor and the vulnerable. And you can shake your heads – but it’s true.”

l Hugh Gaffney (Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill) waved a red card at the end of his speech, referring to Tory MP Douglas Ross who missed the vote, telling the Commons: “Finally I’ll show the red card – that’s what this is about, let’s halt it, let’s stop it.”