BORIS Johnson was accused of “fleecing Scottish families” and steaming ahead with “austerity 2.0” during a row over the National Insurance tax hike at PMQs.

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford slammed the Tory tax plans as “regressive” and warned that the policy would penalise the youngest and poorest workers in society.

Blackford dubbed the increase "a Tory poll tax" and said the Prime Minister should be “ashamed” of himself for the policy, the scrapping of furlough and cutting the Universal Credit uplift, which will disproportionately impact those on lower incomes.

Blackford said this was a prime example of why Scotland needs to become an independent country, to protect workers from Tory cuts and tax hikes.

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The UK Government announced earlier this week that to raise tax for social care in England, there will be a 1.5% percentage point rise in National insurance contributions.

This would cost an extra £255 for those on a £30,000 salary and £505 for those on a salary of £50,000.

But the main concern amongst the opposition to the plans is the impact of those on low incomes – combined with the loss of furlough and extra £20 a week Universal Credit payment.

And Blackford didn’t hold back in his scathing assessment of the policy.

The National:

Blackford and Johnson clashed over the planned NI hike during PMQ's

During PMQs in the House of Commons Blackford began by slamming the “regressive” tax plans and the impact they will have on Scottish workers.

He said: “The Joseph Rowntree Foundation estimates that around two million families on low incomes will now pay an average of an extra £100 a year because of the Prime Minister’s tax hike.

“Yet again the Tories are fleecing Scottish families, hitting low and middle income workers and penalising the young.

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“A former Tory work and pensions secretary called it a sham, a former Tory chancellor has said this is the poor subsidising the rich, a former Tory prime minister has called this regressive.

“Prime Minister, isn’t this the case that this Tory tax hike is once again balancing the books on the backs of the poor and the young?”

Johnson, who did not respond to many of the points raised, said in response: “The Right Honourable gentleman says there was no consultation, I much enjoy my conversations with representatives of the Scottish administration and one thing they said to me was they wanted more funding for the NHS.

"And I’m delighted that we’re putting another £1.1 billion into the NHS in Scotland. 

“While all they can talk about is another referendum, and I think that is a clear distinction between us and the Scottish nationalist parties about what are the real priorities of the people of this country.”

Blackford continued and noted that Johnson didn’t answer his question, adding that he should be “ashamed of himself” by forcing the tax hike on the young and poor.

He said: “We now know the economic direction of this toxic Tory government.

“We’re going to see furlough scrapped, Universal Credit cut, more tax hikes for the low paid, let us be in no doubt – this is the return of the Tories austerity agenda.

“It is austerity 2.0. On this Prime Minister’s watch the United Kingdom now has the worst levels of poverty and inequality anywhere in north west europe, and in work poverty has risen to record levels this century.

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“More Tory austerity cuts will make this even worse. Scotland deserves better.

“There is clearly no chance of a fair covid recovery under this Prime Minister and under this Westminster government.

"Isn’t it the case Mr Speaker that the only way to protect Scotland from Tory cuts and their regressive tax hikes is to become an independent country, with the full powers needed to build a fair, strong, equal recovery for the people of Scotland?”

The National:

Blackford was visibly displeased at the Prime Minister's response to his questions

Johnson replied and said he believed independence was “the right priority” for the people of Scotland.

He said: “I’ll just remind him of the words of the deputy leader of the Scottish government who welcomed, when the Labour government put up NI by a penny to pay for National Health Service ... he said I’m absolutely delighted. This is a guy called John Swinney, I’m absolutely delighted that the chancellor of the exchequer has now accepted the progressive, progressive, taxation is required to invest in the health Scotland. I mean, get your stories straight.

“This is more cash for people in Scotland, it’s more investment for families in Scotland, it’s good for Scotland and good for the whole of the United Kingdom.”