THE SNP has called on the Prime Minister to give workers a pay rise, arguing they faced the worst period for pay in 70 years.

Ian Blackford, the party’s Westminster leader, challenged Theresa May over whether she was “looking out for the just about managing” during Prime Minister’s Questions in the Commons. Blackford, the MP for Ross, Skye and Lochaber said: “The UK Government has not announced any measures to address rising inflation and slowing wage growth which the IFS [Institute for Fiscal Studies] has described as dreadful.

“As workers face more than a decade of lost wage growth and endure the worst period for pay in 70 years, does the Prime Minister think she’s looking out for the just about managing?”

May replied: “What is important is that we ensure that we have an economy which is increasing the number of jobs because the best route out of poverty is for people to be in work, that is what we are doing. We’ve seen nearly three million more jobs being created over recent years, that’s important for people.

“We also help people for example by cutting taxes, it’s exactly what we’ve done for people who are lower paid. Introducing that national living wage, these are measures that are giving people real help.”

Blackford raised concerns about the hike in in-work poverty, arguing that workers have “paid the price” for austerity.

But May maintained the Government’s monetary policy had helped create jobs in the economy.

Blackford said: “Of course it’s the forecast of a rise in in-work poverty that should concern us, in particular the likely increase of young people in poverty over the lifetime of this Parliament.

“Since the 2010 general election, the FTSE has risen by 39.6 per cent, monetary policy, not least quantitative easing has helped drive up financial assets while workers have paid the price for austerity.

“Workers will earn no more by 2020/21 than they did in 2008. Will the Prime Minister give workers a pay rise?”

Earlier at PMQs, Jeremy Corbyn accused the government of “flip flopping and floundering” over public sector pay. The Labour leader said through the one per cent pay cap the government was “recklessly exploiting the goodwill of public servants” and called for it to be scrapped.

Corbyn said there was a “low pay epidemic” in the UK, and that pay levels were causing a “real shortage” of NHS staff.

Several ministers have suggested they want the public sector pay cap, introduced in 2013 following a two-year pay freeze, to be lifted, and some Conservative MPs have called for a change of direction after the Tories lost their majority in the General Election.

In a reference to the Conservatives’ deal with the DUP, he said: “The Prime Minister found £1bn to keep her own job — why can’t she find the same amount of money to keep nurses and teachers in their own job — who after all serve all of us.”

May said the Government would study pay review recommendations “very carefully” when they are made.

Labour continued the pressure on the pay cap after PMQs, tabling an urgent question in the Commons.