THE Scottish Secretary has admitted he does not personally know anyone who is going to be affected by the cut to Universal Credit.
Alister Jack made the comment ahead of the withdrawal of the £20-a-week uplift, which charities have described as a “lifeline”.
The UK Government introduced the uplift to help with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, and ministers argue it was always intended to be temporary.
It officially ends tomorrow, despite widespread calls for it to be made permanent.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon previously said pushing ahead with the cut would expose “an absence of basic humanity and moral compass”.
Last month, she said the only conclusion it will be possible to reach if Boris Johnson goes ahead with the move is that he “simply has no shame”.
Official figures show there are 6,568 households on Universal Credit in Mr Jack’s Dumfries and Galloway constituency.
At the Tory conference in Manchester, STV’s Westminster Correspondent Kathryn Samson asked Mr Jack how many people he knows who are on Universal Credit.
He said: “Well, I’ve got constituents on Universal Credit, I do case work for them.”
Pushed on how many people he knows personally, he said: “I – not to my – no.”
Asked if he has been lobbied by Tory MSPs to keep the uplift, Mr Jack said: “We’ve had meetings about it, and we all understand that the plan for jobs that the Chancellor is bringing forward, we believe is the right decision.”
SNP MSP Neil Gray said: “Given the cluelessness the Tories have shown about the reality for families on Universal Credit, it’s not surprisingly that Alister Jack has admitted he doesn’t know anyone receiving it.
“If the Tories don’t understand the devastating impact that ripping £20 a week away from thousands of families across the country will have then they should listen to all of the charities, all of the experts and all of the devolved governments who do – and are urging them all to cancel the cut.”
Elsewhere, Mr Jack suggested a second independence referendum should only be triggered if a “generation” has passed and polls show support for another vote at 60 per cent for over 12 months, or support for independence at 60% for over 12 months.
He previously suggested 60% support for another referendum sustained “over a reasonably long period” would be enough, with no mention of a generation passing.