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16/10/18 12:33

Universal Credit failings must be addressed in UK Budget

Call for halt of UC roll-out repeated. 

The Chancellor of the Exchequer must use his Budget statement to make changes to Universal Credit and prevent more people and families being pushed into poverty, Social Security Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said today.

Ms Somerville was visiting one of Glasgow City Council's support hubs at Ibrox Library to hear from staff about the issues faced by claimants in the process of claiming Universal Credit.

Ms Somerville said:

"With every passing day, there is more and more evidence of the damage being caused by the roll-out of Universal Credit.  Families already struggling to get by are facing further debt, rent arrears and misery. 

"There are a number of changes that could be made in the forthcoming budget which would have an immediate impact.  The benefit freeze are which will see a cut of around £190 million in 2018/19 should be lifted.  The appalling two child limit which has seen 3,800 Scottish families incomes reduced in the first year should be scrapped.  Cuts to the Universal Credit work allowances should be reversed.  

"Attempts to paper over the cracks, with a potential further delay to the introduction of managed migration are just tinkering in the margins of a flawed system and are not the answer.  The system needs to be fundamentally changed to make it fit for purpose.

"We have done what we can with our limited powers, providing recipients with choices on the frequency of their payments and paying housing costs directly to their landlord.  We are introducing split payments to give everyone an independent income.

"But Universal Credit is a reserved benefit and the UK Government should pay heed to the growing number of voices, from former Prime Ministers to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and more importantly from families the length and breadth of Scotland. They must call a halt to the roll-out of Universal Credit and the use the Budget as the first step towards a fundamental review of this deeply flawed system."

Background

Universal Credit Full Service has been rolled out in 29 local authorities across Scotland so far and is currently being rolled out in Glasgow.  As of August 2018, 6,000 people in Glasgow were on Universal Credit - 71% are men, 69% unemployed, and 63% under 40.  Universal Credit claiming households are outnumbered at least ten to one by legacy benefit households.  

The full impact of the UK Government's welfare cuts was outlined in the annual Welfare Reform Report  which estimated that the UK Government's welfare cuts will lead to a £3.7 billion fall in social security spending by 2021 in Scotland.