MSPs have voted in favour of a motion calling for the UK Government to cancel a planned cut to Universal Credit.

The motion, passed by 88 votes to 28 with no abstentions, with only the Scottish Tories voting against it.

SNP MSP Elena Whitham slammed Douglas Ross's party over the move, calling it "shocking but unsurprising". 

“Scottish Tory MSPs have let down thousands of their constituents by supporting this callous cut to support and by propping up a Tory UK government that imposes these policies on the people of Scotland," she commented.

READ MORE: Universal Credit cut: SNP minister shatters Stephen Kerr's defence of Tory policy

A Scottish Conservative amendment removing the call for the benefit uplift to be scrapped was rejected by 88 votes to 28.

However, just days before, Scottish Tory MSP Alexander Stewart revealed that he and "many" of his colleagues had been lobbying Westminster to reverse the cuts.

He said he had "some real sympathy" for the arguments against the cuts, which are expected to force hundreds of thousands of people into poverty. 

Despite his previous claims, Stewart today argued for the cuts, claiming a rise in Universal Credit had “helped employment rise to record levels in the months leading up to the pandemic”.

Ahead of the debate, Scottish Labour’s social security spokesperson, Pam Duncan-Glancy (below), said: “The uplift was a response to a failing social security system, gutted by the Conservative Government.

The National: Scottish Parliament election count at the Emirates arena, Glasgow. Labour's Pam Duncan-Glancy who has become a Labour MSP on the Glasgow list

  Photograph by Colin Mearns
7 May 2021

“This money went on basics like food, bills and travelling to work or school. For millions of people struggling to make ends meet, slashing that money now will be an assault on their basic human rights.

“This cut will do untold damage to communities and all those opposed must stand together to fight it – but we need deeds as well as words from the Scottish Government.

“Poverty has been climbing under the Tories and the SNP. If they don’t act to reverse this, they will fail future generations and undo all the progress made under the previous Labour Governments.

“The SNP and the Conservative Governments must use all the powers at their disposal to take bold transformative action to tackle poverty and inequality right now.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP, Willie Rennie, said: “The Conservatives seem to be concerned about the cost of this £20 cut to the overall exchequer, but they’ve also said that work is the best route out of poverty.”

A UK Government spokesperson said: “We’ve always been clear that the uplift to Universal Credit was temporary.

“It was designed to help claimants through the economic shock and financial disruption of the toughest stages of the pandemic, and it has done so.

“Universal Credit will continue to provide vital support for those both in and out of work and it’s right that the Government should focus on our Plan for Jobs, supporting people back into work and supporting those already employed to progress and earn more.

“The Scottish Parliament has significant welfare powers and can top up existing benefits, pay discretionary payments and create entirely new benefits in areas of devolved responsibility.”

Parliament also unanimously approved the appointment of Brendan Callaghan as the first chief executive of Environmental Standards Scotland.