Politicians in Watford say any proposal to cut Universal Credit would be "shameful" and "deeply immoral".

The leader of the Watford Labour group, Nigel Bell, and Lib Dem councillor and former parliamentary candidate, Ian Stotesbury, reacted after the majority of Tory MP's failed to back a motion by Labour calling for the universal credit top-up to be kept in place beyond March 31.

Labour’s non-binding motion pressing the Government to maintain a weekly payment increase of £20 was passed by 278 votes to zero, with six Tories rebelling against Prime Minister Boris Johnson by voting with Labour.

After the vote on Monday, Cllr Bell said more than 11,000 people in Watford "stand to lose out" if the credit payment is cut.

He added: "It is deeply shameful that the Government is planning to cut the lifeline that so many rely on. Protecting families should be at the forefront of the Government’s response, but today they have been abandoned.

"A £20 cut in help during this pandemic would be an especially cruel and heartless one.

"(Watford MP) Dean Russell should explain to residents why they think it’s right to make the poorest households shoulder the heaviest burden or apologise for failing to oppose this cut."

Hillingdon Times: Cllr Nigel BellCllr Nigel Bell

Cllr Stotesbury added: "Cutting Universal Credit is dangerous and deeply immoral. We know that thousands of people across Watford rely on Universal Credit and, in this current crisis, it's more vital than ever.

"Liberal Democrats are calling for an expansion of support for families in need and for the increase of the carers allowance to help those providing care to vulnerable people across our town and our country."

Hillingdon Times: Cllr Ian StotesburyCllr Ian Stotesbury

Mr Russell has sought to reassure residents that a decision will be made by the Chancellor in due course as part of his 2021 budget.

He added: "The temporary uplift to universal credit formed part of the government’s significant efforts to support all families throughout this unprecedented time. These have included measures worth over £280 billion, including more than £7 billion in welfare payments.

"I am disappointed that during a time of crisis, opposition day debates, which have no legal standing, have been used to create misleading headlines and worry people.

"As a result, many MPs have received vile threats - including death threats - which is unacceptable."

Hillingdon Times: Watford MP Dean RussellWatford MP Dean Russell

He added: "In Watford I continue to offer to work with everyone to ensure we support our community and put people before politics."