DOUGLAS Ross has been urged to “do the right thing for once” and defend benefits rising in line with inflation amid fears that the UK Government could implement drastic cuts in its upcoming fiscal plan.

Liz Truss’s government has failed to rule out increasing benefits in line with earnings, instead of inflation, in an effort to save around £5 billion and help fund the tax cuts outlined in the disastrous mini budget.

It is feared that hundreds of thousands of working families across the UK would risk sliding into further poverty if the change was implemented.

Tens of thousands of people have signed a petition calling on the Government to maintain increases in line with inflation, with the likes of former prime minister Gordon Brown urging ministers to avoid the “immoral” act – saying the cuts would be a “stain on our nation’s soul”.

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Families in receipt of Universal Credit have already seen their income cut by £20-a-week, as the Tories decided that uplift was no longer needed after the end of Covid restrictions.

During Wednesday night’s Debate Night Tory MSP Jeremy Balfour called for benefits to continue increasing with the inflation metric – prompting calls for Ross to make the same demand from his Westminster bosses.

Kaukab Stewart (below), MSP for Glasgow Kelvin, said it is “staggering” that the “chaotic” UK Government would look to impose the largest ever real-terms cut to benefits during the cost-of-living crisis.

The National: Kaukab Stewart is the SNP MSP for Glasgow Kelvin

"It's well past time for Douglas Ross to do the right thing - for once - and tell Liz Truss she can't continue to make the least well-off in our society pay for the failures of this Tory government,” she said.

"The contrast between the Scottish Government's actions and Westminster's could not be more painfully obvious.

“Whilst the SNP is doing all we can to help those most in need right now - by uprating eight Scottish benefits and increasing the Scottish Child Payment - it appears that the Tories are intent on actually making things worse for hard-pressed households.

"To face the challenges ahead it is essential Scotland has the choice to escape Westminster control and use the powers of independence to make better decisions and build a fairer future."

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The Scottish Tories have been contacted for comment.

It comes as Ross was also urged to reject any further “trampling” of devolution and clearly oppose fracking in Scotland.

On Wednesday, Tory MP Laura Farris suggested that while she doesn’t want to see fracking in her own constituency it could be “appropriate” to try in “the northern reaches of Scotland.

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Scotland has banned fracking, while Westminster is lifting its ban and wants to roll out it out across England.

"Quite frankly, it is insulting to all of the people across the vast number of communities that encompass the 'northern reaches of Scotland' for a Tory MP to suggest that she doesn't want fracking anywhere near her own communities but it would be acceptable in areas of Scotland - especially when the Scottish Government has banned all fracking," said Aberdeen South and North Kincardine MSP Audrey Nicoll. 

"It shows how completely expendable the Tories view Scotland [as].

"Douglas Ross needs to make clear that his party will not allow Westminster to trample over devolution to impose fracking on any communities across Scotland and that there are no plans to do so."