SNP MP calls for the roll-out of Universal Credit to be ‘halted now’, as mounting evidence shows the new benefit is causing significant hardship.
Universal Credit is pushing vulnerable claimants into “a vicious cycle of debt and despair”, says an MP who is calling for the roll-out of the Government’s flagship welfare reform to be halted with immediate effect.
SNP MP Stuart McDonald says Universal Credit, which is replacing a number of existing social security benefits with a single monthly payment paid, is forcing some people to turn to loan sharks and food banks to make ends meet.
The new benefit is in the process of being rolled-out across the country but has been beset with numerous delays and IT problems, and has faced heavy criticism over payment delays and an arbitrary six-week waiting period.
Under the new system, rent support is paid directly to the claimant who is then expected to pass it on to their landlord or housing association. Whereas under the previous housing benefit system, which is just one of the benefits being replaced by Universal Credit, rent was paid directly to landlords.
Homeless charities, landlords, and housing organisations, have warned that the new system places tenants at risk of being evicted from their homes, due to delays in housing support payments and difficulties in arranging direct rent payments, where necessary, with the Department for Work and Pensions.
Opponents of the new system say the average working family in receipt of Universal Credit will be more than £1,000 a year worse off by 2020. Lone parents are forecast to be some of the hardest hit, losing an average £2,380 a year.
Mr McDonald said: “I know from speaking to local people, advice agencies and landlords that, the roll-out of universal credit there has been a dog’s breakfast.
“It has had profound implications for the constituents concerned, and I support those who call for it to be halted now.”