BORIS Johnson has defended plans to cut Universal Credit by £20 a week while giving a ministerial job to a wealthy Tory donor.

The Prime Minister dodged a question of what he would spend the money on - for instance a cocktail or a taxi - as the reduction comes into force this Wednesday despite pleas to reverse the proposal by the first ministers of all the devolved nations.

"The way forward for this country is not to raise taxes and subsidy low pay ... not to keep going with the whole massive £407 billion Covid package", he said pointing to a new £500 million hardship fund to support people on low incomes as he insisted wages were going up across the UK.

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Johnson was then pressed on the appointment of businessman and Tory donor Malcolm Offord to the Lords and a ministerial role in the Scotland Office. Offord stood as a Holyrood candidate in May but failed to get elected.

"How many of these £20 notes could I give you to get a peerage?" asked STV reporter Kathryn Samson.

She then asked: "Scottish banker Malcolm Offord. What was it about the six-figure sum he donated to the Conservative Party that made you think he was the right candidate for a peerage and for a role in your government in the Scotland Office?"

The Prime Minister replied that Offord had a lot of experience in business.

Kirsten Oswald MP, the SNP's Westminster Deputy leader, hit back at Johnson on the Universal Credit cut.

"Twenty pounds a week might not mean much to the likes of Boris Johnson, Rishi Sunak and the Tories, but it's the difference between putting food on the table or heating homes for many low-income families struggling to get by," she said.

"At the same time as taking desperately needed money out of people's pockets, Boris Johnson has appointed yet another crony to the unelected House of Lords and given the failed candidate a seat in his government.

"It's clear Boris Johnson is more interested in looking out for the interests of Tory chums and donors than protecting households from being pushed into poverty and hardship."

Offord, who founded the private equity firm Badenoch and Co, stood as a Conservative candidate for the Lothian region in May's Scottish Parliament election.

He previously ran the pro-union No Borders campaign during the 2014 independence referendum and has donated thousands of pounds to the Conservative Party in recent years.

The Edinburgh-based businessman will replace Banff and Buchan MP David Duguid, who was sacked from his Scotland Office junior ministerial role during Johnson's recent Cabinet reshuffle.