LABOUR sitting on the fence over Tory cuts to Universal Credit is "failing millions of the poorest people across the UK", according to the SNP.

On the Andrew Marr show this morning, Labour's shadow chancellor, Anneliese Dodds, was repeatedly pressed to back a permanent Universal Credit (UC) uplift of £20 a week which supports millions of the lowest-paid families in the UK.

Dodds was asked by Marr to explain the case against Labour saying the uplift should be kept for good.

Dodds replied: "We've set out a range of different measures that we want to see in relation to Universal Credit. We also want to see, for example, the initial loan turned into a grant, we want to see a scrapping of the cap and we want to make sure that families have the support that they need for the future.

"That's why we said during this pandemic - we said it many, many months ago and the Government is trailing in the wake of this - that we needed to see that uplift maintained during the pandemic but I'm not going to abandon our commitment to reform Universal Credit, because it's needed."

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Marr said he was "perplexed" by the party's stance as the support of a permanent uplift to UC seems like "exactly the kind of thing the Labour party" could say yes to coming out of the pandemic.

Dodds said the UC system has been shown to "manifestly not support people in the way that they need" and it has missed out on people who need support the most.

SNP MSP for Renfrewshire South Tom Arthur wrote on Twitter: "Labour has a 'non-negotiable' position when it comes to stationing atomic bombs 20 miles from Glasgow but can't say if it supports maintaining a £20 uplift on Universal Credit. It looks like New Labour is back in business."

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The SNP has consistently called for the £20 a week uplift to be made permanent and extended to legacy benefits - as part of a wider package of measures to tackle rising poverty in the UK. 

Research by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and baby bank charity Little Village, published earlier this month, revealed soaring child poverty in the UK - with 4.2million children living in poverty, including 1.3million babies and children under the age of five.

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Commenting on Labour not supporting the permanent uplift, SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford said: "It is completely unforgivable that the Labour Party is failing millions of the poorest people across the UK by sitting on the fence over Tory cuts to Universal Credit.

"The SNP strongly opposes a return to Tory austerity cuts. We are clear that the £20 uplift must be made permanent and extended to legacy benefits, as part of a wider package to tackle the growing Tory poverty crisis that has engulfed the UK.

"People will wonder what on earth is the point in the Labour Party if it won't even oppose these devastating Tory austerity cuts, which would push millions into poverty and crisis.

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"It is clear that Scotland faces a choice of two futures - another decade of Tory cuts and the long-term damage of Brexit at Westminster, or the opportunity to protect our place in Europe and build a strong, fair and green recovery as an independent country.

"The question at the Scottish election in May will be this: who has the right to decide what sort of country we should be after the pandemic - people in Scotland or Boris Johnson? Who do we trust most to deliver a fair recovery - ourselves or Westminster?

"With both votes SNP we can deliver a strong, fair and green recovery and put Scotland’s future in Scotland’s hands - not Boris Johnson’s."