NICOLA Sturgeon has slammed the "morally indefensible" cut to Universal Credit as she criticised Douglas Ross for looking at his phone while the issue was raised in Holyrood.

The First Minister urged Conservative MSPs to try to persuade the UK Government to reverse its plans to end the £20-a-week uplift. 

The increase is due to end on October 6, despite appeals from many MPs and charities to make it permanent. 

The UK Government insists it was a temporary measure introduced in response to the pandemic. 

Speaking during First Minister's Questions, Ms Sturgeon said: "Obviously as part of the cut and thrust of democracy and political debate, I disagree and oppose many of the UK Government's policies, as the Conservatives will oppose many of the policies of this Government. 

"But I don't think there has been anything quite so morally indefensible as this cut to Universal Credit that is planned to take effect in a week. 

"Taking, at this time in particular, £20 a week away from those vulnerable, lowest income households across the country simply cannot be defended in any way shape or form."

She added: "I do say to the Conservatives here - if Douglas Ross wants to get off his phone for a moment while we're talking about this really serious issue - I would say to the Conservatives in this chamber: please, over the next few days, try to persuade your UK Government colleagues not to do this, because it is your constituents just as it is mine, and the constituents of every member in this chamber who are going to find it difficult to feed their children, to pay their energy bills and to live with dignity if this cut goes ahead. 

"For goodness' sake, let's all of us unite to say to this UK Government do not do this."