South Scotland MSPs, Joan McAlpine and Emma Harper will take part in a day of action in Dumfries on Saturday to highlight the devastating impact that Universal Credit has across the region.
Both MSPs have experienced an increase in the number of constituents contacting them for help after finding themselves without an income due to the new system. They will encourage constituents to sign a petition against the benefit and say recent changes announced by Amber Rudd, The UK Work and Pensions Secretary, do not go far enough.
Universal Credit is a new payment to replace several working age benefits, including housing benefit and tax credits. It was first introduced by the UK Government in 2013 and has been rolled out gradually across the country ever since. It’s in place across Dumfries and Galloway for all new claimants.
The system is widely criticised across the UK because of five-week delays in processing payments, causing claimants to fall behind in rent and forcing them to rely on emergency welfare support. The UK Government refuses benefit for families with more than two children if they are born after 2017. Charities have criticised it for causing households unnecessary stress and worry. The Scottish Government previously secured a concession which allows rent in Scotland to be paid directly to landlord. The “Scottish Choice” also allows the benefit to be paid twice a month, although the benefit itself remains firmly controlled from London.
SNP MSP, Joan McAlpine says:
“Amber Rudd offered some concessions but not nearly enough – and she vowed to roll out Universal Credit by 2023, despite the hardship caused. Every day we’re seeing more and more evidence of how the system is failing, with distraught constituents getting in touch because they’re being forced into debt or don’t have enough money to feed their children.
“Our calls for the rollout to be halted have been ignored and Universal Credit has now reached all areas of Scotland. So on Saturday we’ll be asking concerned constituents to sign a petition asking the UK Government to fix the fundamental flaws in the system before even more people are forced to suffer unnecessary hardship.
“Universal Credit is entirely reserved to Westminster and it’s time Tory ministers listened to the concerns being raised about the suffering that built-in delays are causing.”
The petition can be found online at www.snp.org/universalcredit
Emma Harper MSP agrees with her SNP colleague. She says:
“Universal Credit is a broken system – it’s leaving people destitute, driving kids into poverty, and is making families turn to school uniform banks just to clothe their kids. Additionally, Universal Credit is causing a rise in the number of people using food banks across South West Scotland.
“Since Universal Credit was rolled out in Dumfries and Galloway, and indeed Ayrshire, I have seen a significant rise in the number of constituents contacting me about the horrendous and disrespectful way they have been treated by the Tory Government’s Department for Work and Pensions, through the administration of Universal Credit.
“Money is being diverted away from key public services to cover the costs to mitigate the damage caused by this appalling change being imposed by the UK Government on Scotland. This is fundamentally unfair. The announcement from Amber Rudd to halt the rollout of certain elements of Universal Credit is too little too late, and I would call on the UK Government to fully devolve powers over welfare to the Scottish Parliament in order to allow the SNP Scottish Government to develop a fair and socially just system for all.”
Emma and Joan will be joining the Day of Action in Dumfries Town Centre on Saturday from 12 noon onwards. They are happy to take up any individual cases of problems with Universal Credit brought to them.
Image attached : Joan McAlpine MSP and Emma Harper MSP campaigning against Universal Credit