RISHI Sunak has dismissed concerns about cutting lifeline support for struggling families and businesses in Scotland as he insisted the Tory government is "not done helping people".

The Chancellor, during a visit north of the Border, confirmed the Treasury will be ending a £20 uplift in Universal Credit and ditching the furlough scheme – prompting accusations that he "does not care about Scotland". 

Earlier, opposition politicians warned the cuts could lead to half a million people being plunged into poverty. 

But Sunak stated the Universal Credit increase was always meant to be a temporary measure, adding that the latest labour market data was "really positive".

The end of the benefit uplift on September 30 is expected to affect the incomes of about six million families.

Political opponents, union leaders and anti-poverty campaigners have all urged ministers to make the £20 weekly uplift permanent.

During a visit to Scotland, Sunak saw a demonstration wind turbine at the ORE Catapult facility in Methil, Fife, as well as meeting other business leaders involved in the renewable energy sector.

The Chancellor said the green energy sector was "so important" to the future economy.

Asked about the end of the £20 uplift, he commented: "That was always meant to be a temporary intervention, that was clear from the outset. Like furlough and the other things we've done, some will start to ease off.

"But we're not done helping people get through this."

He insisted the UK Government's Kickstart scheme was "a great example of us using our muscle, using the might of the Government to help particularly young people find new work".

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Asked about families who may find themselves in poverty when the uplift ends, he said: "There's lots of different ways we can help those people.

"What we're doing is providing support in a way that will sustainably help those people.

"I think the right thing is to help those families into really high-paid work, that's the best way to help those children.

"We know that children growing up in a workless household are five times more likely to be in poverty than those that don't.

"That tells me that the best way to help those children is to help their parents find really good jobs."

Sunak also discussed the phasing-out of the furlough scheme, saying it had saved "millions of jobs" but the Government's focus was now on getting people back into work.

He added: "All the data we're seeing about the labour market is really positive.

"A year ago people were expecting unemployment in our country to peak at 12%, 1980s levels.

"If you asked them now, they think it will peak at a level half of that - that's two million people fewer out of work than we feared a year ago.

"Unemployment in this country is lower than in most of our competitor nations."

Ahead of his visit, the Chancellor was been urged by the SNP to apologise to Scots.

Responding to the Tory minister's remarks during his trip, SNP MSP Emma Harper said: “It's increasingly wearisome that Tory government ministers think they have the right to preach about what's best for the people of this country just because they visit once in a blue moon.

“Rishi Sunak, just like Boris Johnson, does not care about Scotland – that's why he refused to extend furlough for Scottish workers until those in England started demanding it.

"And snatching back £20 a week from struggling families demonstrates his priority as chancellor is to return to the worst days of Tory austerity. It is a shameful and vindictive policy that will be disastrous for already struggling families.

“The SNP Scottish government will continue to focus on what's best for Scotland by bringing the country through the pandemic. Then the people of Scotland will get to choose their own priorities in a post-pandemic referendum – for which there is a cast-iron democratic mandate – when it is safe to do so.”