The SNP Government has called upon the Chancellor of the Exchequer to use his Budget statement on Monday 29 October, to make changes to Universal Credit and prevent more people and families being pushed into poverty.
Social Security Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville MSP 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.
“Two thirds of those impacted are actually in work.
"There are a number of changes that could be made in the forthcoming budget which would have an immediate impact. The benefit freeze 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."
Kenneth Gibson MSP added:
“The Tory Government’s Universal Credit Full Service has been rolled out in 29 local authorities across Scotland so far and North Ayrshire is one of them.
“In the first six months since the rollout across North Ayrshire last November, rent arrears amongst North Ayrshire Council tenants had already increased by 26%, rising from £875,475.07 to £1,107,768.41. I dread to think of what these numbers will look like after a year.
“The full impact of the Tories’ brutal welfare cuts was recently outlined in the annual Welfare Reform Report, which estimated that, if unchanged, they will lead to a £3.7 billion fall in social security spending by 2021 in Scotland.
“Thousands of working families will lose £50 a week.
“Sadly, many people’s lives across North Ayrshire have already been damaged by Tory cuts, but the Chancellor still has a chance to refrain from pushing more people into poverty by drastically improving Universal Credit on Budget Day; 29 October.”