Following last week’s Westminster debate, North Ayrshire & Arran MP Patricia Gibson has called on the UK Government to halt the chaotic rollout of its flagship Universal Credit policy, highlighting the misery being caused to thousands of families by this botched system.
Universal Credit is designed to replace several existing benefits, but the rollout of the new system has been beset by significant problems.
People moving on to Universal Credit face a system designed to delay any payments for six weeks. The serious impact of this has been highlighted by charities and third sector organisations, who report people going hungry, falling into significant rent arrears, and facing eviction, because of the payment delay built into the system.
Department of Work & pensions figures show that in a quarter of cases, claimants wait even more than six weeks for their first payment.
"This is an impossible situation, causing untold misery to the most vulnerable in society. It is extraordinary that the Tory Government is ignoring the reports from constituencies all over the country and evidence from organisations like the Trussell Trust, who report a 17% increase in foodbank referrals in areas where Universal Credit is being rolled out."
Conservative MPs abstained from voting in the Westminster debate, leading to criticism that they were not willing to support their own policy. However, following sustained pressure from SNP MPs, the UK Government agreed that the 55p per minute cost for those phoning to query Universal Credit problems will be scrapped.
Patricia welcomed this, commenting:
"This is an acknowledgment that these charges were unfair. Nevertheless, the determination of the UK Government to continue rollout of Universal Credit against all advice flies in the face of common sense and common decency. Their failure to even turn up to vote for their own policy shows how difficult they are finding it to defend a policy that is simply wrong."