BORIS Johnson has refused to commit to a permanent £20 uplift in Universal Credit despite warnings that inaction could see 16 million people lose £1000 “overnight”.

The Tory leader was pressed on the issue by Ian Blackford in the Commons during Prime Minister’s Questions.

The SNP Westminster leader pointed out that it is Challenge Poverty Week, describing it as a "moment for all of us to take unified action against poverty”.

Speaking from his home via video link, Blackford said: "With mass unemployment looming, having the right social security measures in place to help families over the long term is vital. The Chancellor has so far refused to commit to make the £20 Universal Credit uplift permanent.

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"This means that 16 million people face losing an income equivalent of £1040 overnight. Will the Prime Minister now commit to making the £20 uplift to Universal Credit permanent?"

Johnson replied: "I'm proud that we've been able to uprate it in the way that we have and we will continue to support people across the country with the biggest cash increase in the national living wage this year, and the result of UC so far has been that there are 200,000 fewer people in absolute poverty now than there were in 2010."

A clearly exasperated Blackford urged the Prime Minister to answer his question directly.

He added: "The Resolution Foundation have called the £20 uplift a living standards lifeline for millions of families during the pandemic. Challenge Poverty Week is a moment for all of us to take unified action against poverty.

"The Prime Minister has an opportunity here now, will he do the right thing, will he answer the question and will he make the £20 uplift permanent?"

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Johnson again rejected the invitation to make a commitment over the welfare payment.

He responded: "It is vital that we tackle poverty in this country, that's why this Government is so proud of what we did with the national living wage and what I can tell him on Universal Credit is that we're putting another £1.7 billion into UC by 2023/2024, and if that doesn't give him the answer that he wants then he can ask again next week.”

Labour's Stephen Timms, chairman of the Work and Pensions Select Committee, said it would be "unthinkable" for Johnson to remove the £20 uplift next April given the continuation of the pandemic.

Johnson said his Government would “keep these things under constant review”.