Almost two-thirds of Scots support the existing benefits cap, a new poll has revealed.
The survey emerged as the leaders of Scotland’s four main political parties clashed over the issue in an angry television debate for the third time in five days.
YouGov found that 65% of Scots back the £26,000 ceiling for any household’s total benefits, with a majority of SNP, Labour and Liberal Democrat voters agreeing with the Conservative policy.
That is despite First Minister Nicola Sturgeon saying she “wasn’t particularly in favour” of the cap but admitting scrapping it was not “a priority” for her party.
She added that she wants “to see benefits rise with inflation”.
Labour’s Jim Murphy told BBC host Gordon Brewer that his party was in favour of a benefits cap remaining at the existing level but people in poverty needed “a change of Government”.
Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson defended the UK Government’s record on jobs while the Liberal Democrats’ Willie Rennie said his party would keep the cap as it is.
The Tories plan to reduce the cap to £23,000 after the election a plan that also attracted the support of more than half the people asked.
Conservative welfare reform spokesman Alex Johnstone said: “This important poll confirms that, despite Labour and SNP scaremongering, the majority of Scots are wholeheartedly on the side of the UK Government’s bid to get Scotland back to work.
“And it shows that Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon speak for the minority in failing to reform welfare and racking up our nation’s debts.”
Ms Sturgeon, Mr Murphy, Mr Rennie and Ms Davidson took part in a debate on the BBC’s Sunday Politics Scotland programme, where they had fierce exchanges over their plans for economic growth and reducing the deficit.
The Labour leader said the SNP’s plans for bringing in full fiscal autonomy would create a £7.6 billion hole in Scotland’s finances.
However, Ms Sturgeon said figures from the Institute for Fiscal Studies were a “snapshot” and claimed new powers would allow the Scottish economy to grow.
Quizzed on her party’s plans for a second referendum on independence, the SNP leader said: “Something would have to change for it to be in our manifesto.”
Asked what cuts Labour would make to balance the budget, Mr Murphy said child benefit would be frozen under Labour and billions in savings would be made from the 50p rate of tax.