SENIOR politicians from each of the UK’s four parliaments have united to plead with the Tory government to maintain a “lifeline” £20 uplift in Universal Credit.

In what is believed to be a first in the UK’s political history, the conveners of committees at Westminster, Holyrood, Stormont and the Senedd have penned a joint letter to Downing Street.

The £20 increase, introduced as an emergency measure during the pandemic, has been a "a lifeline for millions of families, saving them from being impoverished", the politicians say.

Union leaders and anti-poverty campaigners have also been urging ministers to make the increase permanent for months.

The letter, addressed to Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey, is signed by Labour's Stephen Timms at Westminster, the SNP's Neil Gray (below) for Holyrood, Paula Bradley of the DUP for Stormont and Welsh Labour's Jenny Rathbone at the Senedd in Cardiff.

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It reads: "Ending the uplift would mean that the six million people claiming Universal Credit will lose £1040 in annual income overnight.

"The Joseph Rowntree Foundation has estimated that removing the uplift would force 500,000 people, including 200,000 children, into poverty.

"Families on the lowest incomes, those with children and particularly single parents, BAME families, and families where someone is disabled are disproportionately affected."

The politicians demand that the £20 welfare uplift is extended to people on legacy benefits, which were in place before Universal Credit.

Sunak and Coffey are warned: "You also risk removing this support from families at the very time unemployment is expected to peak, as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme comes to an end."

The Tory ministers also face the prospect of a backbench rebellion over the issue, with several former work and pensions secretaries backing the increase.

A UK Government spokesperson said: "Universal Credit has provided a vital safety net for six million people during the pandemic, and we announced the temporary uplift as part of a £400bn package of measures put in place that will last well beyond the end of the roadmap.

"Our focus now is on our multi-billion pound Plan for Jobs, which will support people in the long-term by helping them learn new skills and increase their hours or find new work."