A Tory architect of Universal Credit has demanded Boris Johnson scrap the £20-a-week cut - or risk throwing 840,000 Brits into poverty.

Philippa Stroud, who was Iain Duncan Smith’s Special Advisor when he designed the benefit, today joined charities, landlords, debt groups, mortgage lenders, unions and many Tory MPs in urging a Tory U-turn.

The Conservative peer warned the cut next month will have “will have immediate knock on effects in terms of poverty”.

The Legatum Institute, of which she is chief executive, estimated the change will hit 290,000 children, 520,000 working-age adults and 30,000 pensioners who are currently just above the poverty line.

In the same year, a senior Legatum figure reportedly helped Mr Johnson draw up an ultimatum to Theresa May urging her to take a tougher stance on Brexit.

It came as prominent Tory MP Tracey Crouch broke ranks to say the £20 uplift “should stay”.

The former minister, popular across Westminster, told i News she was “deeply uncomfortable” with the cut adding: “It is happening at a time where other things are increasing such as energy bills and food bills and everything else. So personally I think it should stay.”

Prominent Tory MP Tracey Crouch broke ranks to say the £20 uplift “should stay”

Legatum analysis today found the £20-a-week ‘uplift’ in Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit, as well as axing the Minimum Income Floor for self-employed claimants, has “insulated” around 840,000 people from slipping into poverty.

Those measures will have been scrapped for all claimants by November 12 - affecting that insulation for 710,000 people in working-age families and 130,000 people in workless families.

Of those hit, the most (360,000) are in families of a couple with children, Legatum said.

Baroness Stroud said: “It's vital that when MPs of all parties debate the £20 uplift in Universal Credit, they do so in possession of the full facts.

“The Legatum Institute’s Nowcasting Report clearly indicates that the removal of the Universal Credit uplift will have immediate knock on effects in terms of poverty, increasing hardship for 840,000 more people in the UK, 290,000 of whom are children.

“Instead of withdrawing Universal Credit at this perilous time, we should be focusing our collective attention on ways to unlock prosperity across all of our regions and communities.”

Iain Duncan Smith has also insisted the £20-a-week cut must be stopped.

The Department for Work and Pensions has insisted self-employed people will not immediately be subjected to the Minimum Income Floor - which limits benefits to what they would get if they earned minimum wage.

A Government spokesperson said: “As announced by the Chancellor at the Budget, the uplift to Universal Credit was always temporary.

“It was designed to help claimants through the economic shock and financial disruption of the toughest stages of the pandemic, and it has done so.

“Universal Credit will continue to provide vital support for those both in and out of work and it’s right that the Government should focus on our Plan for Jobs, supporting people back into work and supporting those already employed to progress and earn more.”

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