The UK Government needs to immediately halt and radically reform Universal Credit – and the Tory policy needs a dramatic change, not just a sticking-plaster solution.
Only a full halt and fundamental change can address the deep-rooted problems with the system and help those already suffering under it.
I am also calling on the other political parties to get behind the SNP’s seven-point plan to radically reform Universal Credit at the upcoming Budget, 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
Inverclyde was one of the first areas in the UK to be transferred to Universal Credit in November 2016, shortly before the closure of the Port Glasgow Jobcentre. The deeply flawed implementation of this benefit has forced many people in Inverclyde towards financial hardship and dependence on food banks.
The Trussell Trust reported a 90% increase in the number of children accessing food banks in Inverclyde since 2016/2017, citing Universal Credit as a major factor in the increase. I recently met with the Chief Executive of the Trussell Trust to discuss the impact of Universal Credit and the financial pressure that it is putting on local families.
Clearly Universal Credit needs a dramatic change and not just a sticking plaster solution. Only a full halt and radical reform can address the deep rooted flaws with the system, and help those families who are already suffering in poverty because of a botched UK Government policy.
The UK Government must use the Budget to make immediate changes – including ending and reversing the benefits freeze, reinstating the work allowance, scrapping the two-child cap, reintroducing the ESA WRAC and enhanced disability support, abolishing unfair sanctions, and fixing the payment delays and errors.
The Tories must also instigate a fundamental review of the entire flawed system, and deliver support for families who have been plunged into debt and rent arrears in areas where Universal Credit has already been rolled-out, such as Inverclyde.
Dozens of constituents have contacted me to discuss how Universal Credit has affected them. I will be attending tomorrow’s parliamentary debate on Universal Credit on their behalf.