Ian Blackford urges Boris Johnson to match Scottish Government's child payments or risk pushing children into poverty

Ian Blackford has urged Boris Johnson to match the Scottish Government's child payments or risk pushing more children into poverty.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson dismissed the calls from Ian Blackford
Prime Minister Boris Johnson dismissed the calls from Ian Blackford

The SNP Westminster leader claimed economists had warned living standards will worsen in 2022, and accused the Tories of making millions of families poorer”.

Speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions, Mr Blackford urged Mr Johnson to apologise for an expected increase in the cost of living and called for him to “commit to an emergency financial package”.

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He said: “In Scotland the SNP Government is mitigating this Tory poverty crisis by doubling the Scottish child payment to £20 per week.”

And Mr Blackford called on the Prime Minister to match that or “push hundreds of thousands of children into poverty as a direct result of his policies”.

Mr Johnson replied: “He’s talking, I’m afraid, total nonsense.

”This is a Government that is absolutely determined … as I’ve said throughout this pandemic particularly to look after the poorest and the neediest, which is what the Chancellor did. All his packages were extremely progressive in their effect.

“We made sure that we upgraded the local housing allowance. We’re supporting vulnerable renters, that’s why we’re putting money into local authorities to help families up and down the country.”

Mr Blackford also cited research from the Resolution Foundation, saying on average families will be £1,200 worse off from April.

The Prime Minister dismissed his comments, insisting “we are helping families up and down the country”, with measures such as Universal Credit and the increased living wage.

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Mr Johnson said: “You’ve now got more people in work than there were before the pandemic began. That is because of the balanced and proportionate approach that we’ve been taking.”

His defence came during a session that also saw Mr Johnson label Liberal Democrat calls to “prevent millions of people going hungry and cold this year” as “balls”.

As Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey stood up, he was announced by Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle as “Ed Balls”, the former Labour MP and minister.

Addressing the Prime Minister, Sir Ed said: “People’s already high heating bills are about to jump by over 50 per cent with average energy bills rising by nearly £700 a year. Gas price rises will push millions more families into fuel poverty when we know many are already afraid even to open their heating bills.

“Does the Prime Minister accept that he could be doing much much more than he is doing to prevent millions of people going hungry and cold this year while he remains, for now at least, in the warmth and comfort of Number 10?”

Mr Johnson welcomed new Lib Dem MP for North Shropshire Helen Morgan, adding: “I think the rest of what he had to say – balls was the word.

"You were right first time. Your words, Mr Speaker, not mine.

"I simply would advise the House to go back over what I have just said about all the protections we are putting place already.”

The session also saw deputy Angela Rayner fill in for Sir Keir Starmer after the Labour leader tested positive for coronavirus.

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