A TORY minister has been dubbed detached from reality after making false claims about how Universal Credit claimants can offset an upcoming benefits cut.

Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey suggested people who are set to lose £20 a week under Conservative plans could work an extra two hours to make up for the loss.

The Cabinet minister defended the move to end the £20 uplift, which was introduced in response to the coronavirus pandemic, by saying it had always been "temporary".

Coffey told BBC Breakfast: "I'm conscious that £20 a week is about two hours' extra work every week – we will be seeing what we can do to help people perhaps secure those extra hours, but ideally also to make sure they're also in a place to get better paid jobs as well."

That suggestion was rubbished as opposition politicians pointed out at the taper system which is applied to Universal Credit means claimants would have to work for far longer than two hours to earn £20.

SNP MSP Elena Whitham commented: “Tories are totally out of touch with the reality of being in work and still in poverty. It is not just a matter of working 2 extra hours per week or getting a better job. That is akin to the old pull yourself up by the bootstraps mantra.”

She added that Coffey’s claim was incorrect, writing: “UC rules mean it is more like an extra six hours to make up the £20 uplift.”

READ MORE: SNP pass resolution urging Tories to make Universal Credit uplift permanent

Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner replied: “This is a lie and the Work and Pensions Secretary either knows she’s lying or shouldn’t be in the job.

“An additional £20 for a UC claimant isn’t 2 hours work, that’s not how the taper works. An extra £20 would require £50+ worth of hours, that is how the UC system works.”

Pressed about asking people to work longer, Coffey said: "It's a temporary uplift recognising the reason that it was introduced is coming to an end."

She also said the UK is "seeing record numbers of vacancies".

The benefits increase will be phased out from the end of the month, based on individual claimants' payment dates.

Recipients could lose £1040 annually if the UK Government goes ahead with the cut.

Under UK Government social security rules, every £1 earned while on Universal Credit triggers a 63p reduction in your benefits if you are earning more than the Work Allowance threshold, which is set at £293 a month, or £515 a month if your benefits don't include housing support.

Those meeting that criteria would therefore need to work for at least six extra hours to make up the £20 a week loss.