Dan Peters 02 October 2017

Scottish councils join call to halt rollout of Universal Credit

Scottish councils join call to halt rollout of Universal Credit image

The Scottish Government and councils have joined forces to demand a halt to the full service rollout of Universal Credit.

In a joint letter to work and pensions secretary, David Gauke, Scottish social security minister Jeane Freeman and community wellbeing spokeswoman for the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA), Kelly Parry, highlighted a number of ‘abject failures’ with the system.

They also presented new figures from COSLA showing the damaging impact in those areas where full service rollout has already taken place.

Some councils have reported that the average level of rent arrears for tenants in receipt of Universal Credit is at least 2.5 times higher than those tenants in receipt of housing benefit.

Ms Freeman said: ‘The Universal Credit system is fundamentally flawed and causing unnecessary hardship and suffering to families across Scotland.

‘It is vital that the UK Government addresses these failings and that the rollout is halted until problems are fixed.

‘Universal Credit is failing the people it is designed to support. The in-built six week wait for the first payment, which is often even longer, is unacceptable and pushing people into crisis and rent arrears, having to rely on food banks and emergency payments to get by.

‘Despite the clear evidence, the Department for Work and Pensions still refuses to acknowledge the severity of the problem. This incompetency cannot continue.

‘It is time UK ministers faced up to the facts, and stepped up to support people and stop the rollout of a failing system.’

Ms Freeman will use a Scottish Government debate on Universal Credit tomorrow to call for a halt to the rollout until the system’s problems are fully addressed.

Work and pensions secretary, David Gauke, has committed to pressing ahead with Universal Credit despite growing opposition.

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