A BARRHEAD campaigner has called on the First Minister to restore a £20 benefit increase which is being axed by the UK Government.

More than 500,000 people across Scotland have been told that the temporary weekly rise in their Universal Credit is being axed next month.

It had been introduced by Westminster in April last year to help families through the pandemic but will disappear in October.

Sean Clerkin, who is campaign co-ordinator for the Scottish Tenants Organisation and lives in Barrhead, has written to Nicola Sturgeon asking her to use Scottish Government cash reserves to retain the £20 a week uplift.

He said: “This is the time to use such contingency funds to help the 500,000 worst off people in Scottish society to avoid the extremes of poverty such as malnutrition and eviction from their homes.

“Shortly we will see the end of furlough and protection of those jobs and there will be a massive hike in the price of energy as well as food shortages due to the effects of Brexit and the Covid-19 Pandemic.

“The First Minister should step in and protect these hundreds of thousands of people from the worst effects of poverty by reinstating this modest extra £20 a week for a longer period of time in Scotland.

“I believe the Scottish Government has a moral duty to protect its citizens from the worst aspects of poverty given the unique situation we are all facing together at this time.”

A survey by Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) this week found 74 per cent of people who claim Universal Credit will be unable to cope with the reduction in payment.

Some 26 per cent said they would no longer be able to pay for essentials and 14 per cent said they would no longer be able to pay for food.

Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown has described the benefit cut as “completely unacceptable”.

It’s been claimed that sixty-thousand people in Scotland will be pushed into poverty by the move including 20,000 children,

However the UK Government insist the £20 increase was always going to be a temporary measure.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The UK Government’s decision removes vital support when it’s desperately needed.

“We have urged the UK Government to reverse this, and make the uplift to Universal Credit permanent.”