MSPs vote to halt universal credit

Jeane freeman

MSPs join chorus of condemnation for controversial scheme 

4th October 2017 by Robert Armour 1 Comment

MSPs have voted by 75 to 23 to "immediately halt" universal credit.

During a debate in Holyrood MSPs were told the new scheme which brings together all benefit payments into one, is fundamentally flawed and that its roll-out should be halted.

It has been gradually introduced across the UK, but the process is to be accelerated from October with 50 jobcentres a month added.

Social security minister Jeane Freeman repeated her criticisms of the system, calling the UK government "heartless" and "incompetent".

Her motion said there was "overwhelming evidence" of the "damage" that universal credit is causing recipients, saying delays in payments were "pushing people into rent arrears, debt and crisis".

“Stop forcing people to make decisions about eating or heating, going to a food bank, getting a crisis payment or wondering if they can feed their children and keep a roof over their head,” Freeman said.

“By its actions and its failure to act, the UK government is not only heartless, it is incompetent.”

She added: “The UK government system in policy terms and in delivery is fundamentally flawed, is being delivered with incompetence and needs to be halted.”

Tory MSP Adam Tomkins told the chamber that universal credit is the right thing to pursue.

He said: “In rolling six benefits into one, in being expressly designed so that work always pays, in being a much more flexible system that can be readily tailored to individuals’ particular and often changing needs, in all of these ways and more, Universal Credit is a reform to be welcomed.”

Labour's interim leader Alex Rowley highlighted criticism from charities such as Citizens Advice, saying: "It is fair to say the majority of Scotland is now calling on the UK government to stop the rollout of Universal Credit."

Green MSP Alison Johnstone said there was "severe concern" about the transition, while Lib Dem Alex Cole-Hamilton said it was causing "misery".

UK work and pensions secretary David Gauke announced on Monday that universal credit recipients who need a cash advance would get one within five days, or on the same say in cases of emergency.

He told the Conservative conference in Manchester that he had listened to concerns about the system, saying advance payments would be offered up front.

However he insisted that "universal credit is working", saying "the rollout will continue, and to the planned timetable."

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6th October 2017 by Beverley Dick

Minister Jean Freeman is the jewl of SNP I have met her on several occations through GDA.....very hardworking caring honest woman.....