IAN Blackford took aim at Scottish Tory MPs during PMQs demanding they “find a backbone” over incoming drastic social welfare cuts.

The SNP Westminster leader used his spot at PMQs to bring up the devastating impact the incoming cut to the Universal Credit uplift and the hike in National Insurance will have on key workers and those on low incomes.

Blackford asked the Prime Minister if he knew how much an average nurse would be impacted, with Boris Johnson typically dodging the question.

The rate of inflation has reached its highest level in a decade, Blackford began, and said that prices are going up for workers and families “at the very moment they can least afford it”.

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He said: “Workers and families need more than a winter plan for Covid, they need a winter action plan to fight a Tory poverty pandemic that is only going to get worse.

“So does the Prime Minister know and can he tell us how much Tory government cuts to social welfare will cost the average nurse?”

The Prime Minister replied by stating the Government were “protecting people up and down the country” citing freezing fuel duties and supporting child care.

He continued: “And of course by the huge package of measures that we’ve brought in, not least the living wage, which will see an increase of £4000, has already seen an increase of £4000, for every family on the living wage.

“More importantly he talks about the income of a nurse Mr Speaker, what we’re doing is investing massively in health and social care up and down the country, which will help to fund, apart from anything else Mr Speaker the increase in nurses pay that they so thoroughly deserve, and I hope he will support that package.”

However, Blackford was quick to give the specific answer to the question the Prime Minister glossed over.

He said: “My goodness, my goodness, Mr Speaker, an increase in nurses pay, either the Prime Minister doesn’t know or he simply doesn’t care, because when you take the cuts to universal credit and the increase to National Insurance, Prime Minister the figure you were looking for is the average nurse will lose £1736.

“Once again this government is cutting the pay of key workers, the very people we are relying on to see us through another difficult winter.

“The cost of living is spiralling and people are being left with a Prime Minister who doesn’t know how much his cuts are hitting key workers and a secretary of state for welfare that doesn’t know how universal credit works.

“Mr Speaker, if any Scottish tories are in possession of a backbone, now would be a good time to find it.

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“Does the Prime Minister expect any MPs from his Scottish branch office to stand against the callous cuts to Universal Credit or has the Prime Minister already bought them off with promises in his reshuffle?”

Again, the Prime Minister dodged Blackford’s question and again talked about funding for the NHS.

He said: “Mr Speaker, actually what’s happening is that we’re funding the NHS across the whole of the UK, including in Scotland I’m proud to say with record sums.

The National:

“We’ve ensured that nurses have access to a training bursary worth £5000, a further bursary £3000 for childcare costs, and Mr Speaker and that is before we put up their pay by 3% Mr Speaker.

“That is only possible because of the investment that we are making, the measures that I outlined last week, the package we are putting forward for health and social care, and if he’s really saying Mr Speaker that the Scottish Nationalist party are opposed to that investment, if he’s really saying he would send it back then he’s better off banging on as he normally does about a referendum.”

It comes as Johnson is expected to reshuffle his cabinet this afternoon.

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