THE SNP have said finding the money to make the Universal Credit uplift permanent should be a priority for the UK Government given it can find billions of pounds for nuclear weapons, wasted Covid contracts and vanity projects.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies estimates that making the £20 uplift to Universal Credit permanent would cost £6 billion a year.

The UK Government is already spending £16.5bn over four years on increasing the stockpile of nuclear weapons (around £4bn a year), £250 million on a Royal Yacht, almost a million on a second UK Government jet, and £23bn on the track and trace system in England and Wales.

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The National Audit Office also revealed that this Tory government awarded £10.5bn worth of Covid contracts without a competitive tender process, which led to companies without any experience making various PPE and pandemic related equipment. In August it was reported that 50m face masks unsuitable for the NHS cost the Treasury £155m.

A National Audit Office report last year found that firms which had links with the Tory Party, on the “VIP list” and fast-tracked through the process, were 10 times more likely to land a deal.

Michael Gove also used a half-a-million pound emergency Covid contract to commission polls on “attitudes to the UK Union”.

The SNP’s work and pensions spokesperson, David Linden MP, has launched a campaign urging the UK Government to U-turn on its planned cuts to Universal Credit – that will plunge half a million more people into poverty – and instead make the uplift permanent and extend it to legacy benefits. Linden, the MP for Glasgow East, said: “It speaks volumes about this Tory government that they can find billions of pounds for nuclear weapons and new jets and yachts and wallpaper, and waste money by giving out dodgy contracts – but refuse to stump up money we know would prevent hundreds of thousands from tipping over the edge into poverty.

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“There must be an urgent U-turn on these damaging plans, which would cut the incomes of six million households by £1040, cancel out Scottish Child Payment benefits, and exacerbate poverty and inequality levels in the UK, which are already the worst in north west Europe.

“Household incomes have already been hammered by a decade of Tory austerity cuts, with in-work poverty rising to record levels on Boris Johnson’s watch.

“Scotland is increasingly vulnerable under Westminster control.

“Ultimately, the only way to keep Scotland safe from the long-term damage of Tory cuts is to become an independent country, with the full powers needed to build a strong, fair and equal recovery and eradicate poverty.”