ome families are facing “dire circumstances” this winter as energy bills rises and the £20-a-week pandemic uplift in Universal Credit has been axed, a minister has admitted.

Work and pensions minister Lady Stedman-Scott also hinted that she and colleagues are trying to get more support agreed for poorer households who risk being hardest hit.

She highlighted a £500 million support package over the next six months, although told peers she could make no commitments over what other Government help would be offered.

Pressed further on how to support families over the winter, Lady Stedman-Scott responded: “I will go back and make the points, as I have already done on a regular basis and other colleagues have, about the dire circumstances of the situation.”

Conservative Lord Cormack intervened, stressing: “Does (Lady Stedman-Scott) agree that anybody who like she is a genuine one nation Tory is somewhat embarrassed?”

The minister replied: “Sometimes we find things more difficult than others is how I’d answer that.

“But I am very proud of the way this Government has responded with our plan for jobs.”

Labour’s Lords leader Baroness Smith of Basildon had warned families and businesses are “really struggling”, with some facing the choice of either “heating or eating”.

Lady Stedman-Scott said the Government is “quite aware of the difficulties” posed by rising food and energy costs.

She added: “We have introduced, without me being difficult, this household support fund which is £500 million and covers until the end of March, so it’s six months.

“As ever, the Government will continue to assess the situation and that’s the best I can give you right now.”

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