The UK government actions increasing poverty and expanding inequality – we can do better.

I have launched a campaign to stop the UK government from ploughing ahead with the Universal Credit crunch that could push half a million more people in the UK into poverty – 200,000 of which are children.

I am urging the prime minister and the chancellor to use their summer recess to consider the damage their decision to axe the £20 Universal Credit uplift in October will have on the six million households who currently benefit from it.

Not only will it slash millions of incomes by over £1,000 per year, but it will also wipe out the positive impact the Scottish Child Payment has on families in Scotland.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation has said it will be the biggest overnight welfare cut since the Second World War – and it is set to come at a time when people are still reeling from the economic impact of the pandemic and Brexit, which has seen people lose jobs and income, right on the back of a decade of Tory austerity measures.

I, along with my SNP colleagues, will be using this campaign to remind the Tory government daily over the next two months of the devastating impact their plans will have if they go ahead with them.

The Tory government tells us they want to “level up” – and the chancellor said last year when the coronavirus pandemic began that he would do “whatever it takes” to support us through this crisis.

If Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak do not want this to be another case of hollow rhetoric and be responsible for plunging hundreds of thousands of families over the brink, then they must u-turn on their decision and, instead, make the £20 boost a permanent fixture within Universal Credit, and extend it to legacy benefits.

The UK already suffers from the highest poverty levels and worst inequality in northwest Europe, and nearly one in three children currently live in poverty – 700,000 more than in 2012.

Scrapping the £20 uplift will only exacerbate that. It would be truly devastating for our society if the Tory government ploughed ahead with plans knowing this.

And in Scotland, these plans will serve as another example of the SNP Scottish government putting money in people’s pockets through the Scottish Child Payment and the Tories taking it away again.

Instead of dragging our efforts backwards, the UK government should be taking steps to tackle poverty and inequality – not make it worse.

It is crucial that the Tory government wake up to this reality, or the responsibility for families and children waking up to poverty and destitution overnight will lie squarely at their feet.

I will continue to work with organisations and representatives across Scotland and the UK to do all we can to stop this cut that could devastate so many livelihoods.