Tom Arthur MSP is backing calls for action to reduce the ‘5 week wait’ that claimants of Universal Credit (UC) face before receiving their first payment.
In the run-up to the UK government’s spending review, Citizens Advice Scotland published a new ‘Voices From the Frontline’ briefing which summarises the impact this delay has on people, and calls for a set of changes that will mitigate these problems.
The briefing includes anonymised testimony from CAB clients from across Scotland about the impact the waiting time has had – including creating debt or causing existing debt to spiral, leaving people with no money to heat their home or buy food, and exacerbating ill health.
Unfortunately, these calls have fallen on deaf ears. The opportunity to deal with severe problems caused by these delays has been missed as the Chancellor failed to use the review to reduce the time people have to wait to receive the first payment, or to make non-repayable advance payments available to new claimants to avoid debts building up.
Commenting, Tom Arthur MSP said:
“The botched roll-out of Universal Credit has been a disaster – driving people into poverty and having extremely detrimental effects on wellbeing.
“However, I recognise that those managing the roll-out in Scotland are simply making the best of a bad situation. The fault lies with the damaging decisions made by the UK Government and the continual failure to overhaul these decisions, despite countless accounts of the harm caused.
“The SNP has long made the case for a halt to the roll-out of Universal Credit but those pleas were ignored. It is unacceptable for the UK government to keep side-lining this issue while people suffer.
“The disastrous Tory record on welfare shows why Scotland should have the power to take our own approach – rather than leaving these powers at Westminster.”
Citizens Advice Scotland briefing: https://www.cas.org.uk/system/files/publications/vff_five-week_wait_final.pdf