THE SNP membership have voted overwhelmingly to back a resolution calling on the UK Government to scrap its planned cut to Universal Credit (UC).

The Tories are set to scrap the £20-a-week UC uplift despite warnings from charities that it will push thousands of Scottish children into poverty.

The SNP has long been critical of the plans, which were introduced during the Covid pandemic, saying that coronavirus only highlighted pre-existing inequalities.

It comes as the SNP begin their party's conference, which is taking place online and ends on Monday.

READ MORE: SNP conference to kick off with call to ‘Reach Out For Indy’

It will see speeches from Nicola Sturgeon, Keith Brown and John Swinney among others.

The resolution stated: “Conference welcomes the UK Government’s decision at the outset of the Coronavirus pandemic to uplift Universal Credit payments by £20 per week.

“However, Conference recognises that the pandemic has only highlighted pre-existing inadequacies in the UK’s social security system, which has contributed to the UK having some of the worst poverty and inequality levels in Europe.

“Conference notes the UK Government’s intention to remove the £20 a week uplift in the autumn of 2021 and believes that cutting £1040 a year from household incomes would inflict significant financial pain on some of the most vulnerable families in our communities.

“Conference therefore calls on the UK Government to scrap plans to cut Universal Credit payment, to further extend and backdate the £20 uplift to legacy benefits and, instead, focus on fixing a social security net which has been significantly weakened and cut by successive UK Governments.”

Speaking before the vote, Glasgow East MP David Linden, who brought forward the resolution which passed 521 to 3, said the Tories are putting the financial burden of the pandemic on the lowest-paid workers.

The National: The SNP said the Tories are trying to paint UC as a purely out of work benefitThe SNP said the Tories are trying to paint UC as a purely out of work benefit

He said: “The Tories want to paint Universal Credit as an out of work benefit but this is a complete falsehood.

“Those lowest-paid workers rely on Universal Credit to keep them afloat, and it's estimated around 40% of households receiving Universal Credit are indeed working households.

“And even before my time as the SNP spokesperson for Work and Pensions, I saw first-hand the brutal reality of Tory welfare policy every single day in my Glasgow East constituency.

"Before the pandemic, it was obvious to me that Universal Credit wasn't enough to live on, and that families really were struggling."

Linden said when the Tories raised UC payments at the start of Covid they were effectively admitting that the amount they paid previously was too low.

He continued: “The additional 20 pounds added to a family's weekly budget has been monumental. It has literally meant the difference between heating or eating through the cold winter months.”

SNP MP Amy Callaghan also spoke at the conference. She said: “I'm raging we're having to debate this at all.

“It's high time the UK Government came to its senses and realised that benefits need to be set at a level where people can feed their family and not have to rely on food banks to supplement inadequate welfare.

The National: East Dunbartonshire MP Amy Callaghan backed the resolutionEast Dunbartonshire MP Amy Callaghan backed the resolution

“Now is not the time to be cutting welfare. Families need this £20 uplift now more than ever.

"Despite countless pleas from devolved government, members of parliament, charities and of course from working families, the Conservatives are happy to plough on with these plans which will plunge 400,000 families in Scotland enter poverty overnight.

“And it breaks my heart to see this includes 200,000 children."

Sam Melnick, an SNP member and current UC recipient spoke just before the vote, sharing their own story of how important the uplift has been.

They said: “I'm a current Universal Credit claimant. I was unemployed throughout the last several years and now I work at a job where I don't earn enough to end my claim.

"For many people, an extra 20 pounds a week is negligible. But given how little people on Universal Credit are given in the first place, it matters a lot.

"In our changing world, the cost of living is rising, it is no longer possible to buy the cheapest, slowest internet for example. Many employers interview online using video conferencing platforms that will not work on slow internet or old devices."

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon urges GRA reform critics to focus on 'real threats to women'

They added: "Brexit and the UK's inhumane benefits system are just two reasons why we need independence.

"But until we win the next referendum, we need to ensure that people in Scotland can still afford to heat their homes and buy food.

"Universal Credit is already barely enough to live on. And after so long cutting the monthly amount by this much it will be devastating to people who are only just managing to budget within the amount including the uplift.

“They'll say that uplift was only meant to be temporary, but it is the least the Tory government could do after their economically destructive Brexit, their pandemic policy and every other cruelty they like to inflict on the people who can afford at least."