Universal Credit – the UK government’s flagship welfare policy – is a new payment to replace several existing benefits, including housing benefit and child tax credits, with one single monthly payment.
The rollout in selected pilot areas is turning into an unmitigated disaster. The in-built minimum six-week delay in receiving the first payment is having catastrophic consequences, with families falling behind in rent payments and increasingly relying on emergency welfare support and foodbanks. If fully implemented, Universal Credit cuts will put 1 million more children into poverty by 2020.
The SNP Scottish government will use limited social security powers to protect people in Scotland, helping between 650,000 and 700,000 households. The changes will mean those on Universal Credit in Scotland can opt to be paid twice monthly and rent can be paid direct to landlords, making it easier for people to manage their money. However, the Scottish government does not have the power to fix the damage being inflicted by a six-week delay in receiving payments.
At Westminster, SNP MPs will continue to push the UK government to stop ignoring the overwhelming evidence that Universal Credit is causing unnecessary hardship to thousands of families across the country. We have laid out a seven-point plan to radically reform Universal Credit, including by:
- Immediately halting the roll-out
- Ending and reversing the benefits freeze
- Reinstating the work allowance
- Scrapping the two-child cap and rape clause
- Reintroducing the ESA WRAC and enhanced disability support
- Abolishing unfair sanctions, and fixing payment delays and errors
- Instigating a fundamental review of the entire system
We want Tory Ministers to listen to the concerns being raised from all quarters and finally accept they need to halt the rollout until the fundamental flaws in the system are addressed.