Claimants on low incomes being left destitute with the introduction of the controversial system
Universal Credit should be halted immediately after claims the roll-out of the new system was in crisis.
Highland MP Drew Hendry said that more than 40% of his caseload was now related to the introduction of the controversial scheme.
Universal Credit (UC) brings together six benefits: Income Support, Jobseekers' Allowance and Employment and Support Allowance (both income-based), Child and Working Tax Credits and Housing Benefit and is gradually being introduced across the UK.
It migrates all benefits online and means claimants must have access to digital platforms such as PCs and smart phones.
However it has been fraught with controversy with some claimants having to go without payments for days as the new systems are introduced.
Hendry’s constituency includes Inverness, which is one of the cities chosen for the UC pilot trials. He called for a halt to the new scheme.
“In Highland, the council has a framework agreement for temporary homeless accommodation. It is £25 per night – or £175 per week.
“One of my constituents, Gavin, has been living in homeless accommodation. On the old system, he would have been awarded £168 housing benefit, leaving him a small difference of £7 per week to pay out of his other entitlements.
“Under Universal Credit he has the same housing costs but now he only gets £60 per week, meaning he has to pay £115 per week out of his other allowances. Only he doesn’t even get £115 per week. Even if he gave up food, heat and light and everything else, if he spent every single penny he would still be short.
“This situation is now at crisis point and the rollout of full service needs to be immediately halted. Through no fault of their own, people are being left months without money, and when they seek out help every obstacle possible is put in their way.”
Hendry added: “It seems the primary goal of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is to delay payments at all costs. Even today I have had six separate constituents get in touch as their payment, due last week, still hasn’t arrived. This is after waiting months for money.”
A DWP spokesman said: “Our research shows that the majority of Universal Credit claimants are comfortable managing their budgets, and we’re working with local authorities and landlords to get extra support to those people who may find themselves in arrears.”