Boris Johnson has admitted £111 a month of Universal Credit is not enough to live on after being confronted with the shocking case of a pregnant woman.
The Tory leader – who once described his £250,000 newspaper salary as "chicken feed" – made the confession at Prime Minister's Questions after he was quizzed by SNP MP Mhairi Black.
Ms Black raised the case of a constituent who is eight-and-a-half months pregnant and on the new six-in-one benefit – which includes a five-week wait for the first payment.
That wait leads many families to take out advances, paid back out of their future benefits, to cover the gap. But they're then hit by the repayments, which totalled £50million in one month alone last year.
She said: "After deductions, including an advance, she is left with the grand sum of £111 a month to feed herself, to heat her home and care for her child."
Ms Black said she would be happy to give the PM more details so he could help, but added: "I want to ask him in principle.
"As the Prime Minister, does he think that £111 a month is enough for anyone to live on?"
Further details of the case – including the woman's name or details of why she only ended up with £111 – were not immediately available.
DWP statistics say the average Universal Credit payment is £720 a month, though the advice on deductions is less clear.
Mr Johnson replied to Ms Black: "I am of course very happy indeed to look at the case and to do whatever we can to help with the individual case.
"But I must say to her that in the round, Universal Credit has helped and is helping 200,000 people into work.
"There [are] an estimated 1million disabled households who will get around £100 more per month as a a result of Universal Credit – and I am proud to stand by our record of helping people into work and off welfare."
"As I've said to her before I am more than happy to look at the case.
"And the answer to her question, in a word, is no."
Mr Johnson worded his answer carefully just weeks after being slapped down by the official statistics watchdog for making a false claim about Universal Credit.
In January the Prime Minister told PMQs the six-in-one benefit "has in fact succeeded in getting 200,000 people into jobs." But the UK Statistics Authority said his claim was inaccurate – because the figure is only predicted once the benefit is fully rolled out in 2024.
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