MPs urged to vote against Universal Credit roll-out ahead of Westminster debate

money stock currency-2317703_960_720The SNP and Scottish Labour have called on MPs from across political divide have to vote on a debate on Universal Credit today and halt its roll-out across the UK.

SNP social justice spokesperson, Neil Gray, has said Scottish Conservative leader, Ruth Davidson, must ensure her MPs stand up for Scotland’s interests and vote against the controversial policy.

Thousands of Scots have been forced to apply for crisis grants due to delay in receiving their benefits under Universal Credit.

According to Mr Gray, Prime Minister Theresa May has come under pressure from MPs, including from her own party, over problems with Universal Credit as the “dreadful consequences” of its roll-out become apparent.

He said: “Ruth Davidson must ensure her MPs are in full attendance to vote against the roll-out.

“Several Tory MPs have already indicated they will rebel so the Scottish Tories should throw their lot in with them and defeat the government. Theresa May has already faced lobbying from her own MPs on the issue.

“The SNP has repeatedly argued that the six-week delay in receiving the first Universal Credit payment is entirely unreasonable and is leaving families unable to make ends meet. We have also argued the need to alter payment frequency – which must be fortnightly rather than monthly – as proposed by the Scottish Government, and the status of any advance payments being loans also has to be addressed.”

Labour has launched a petition demanding Theresa May pauses and fixes the welfare reform.

The party’s shadow secretary of state for Scotland, Lesley Laird MP, added: “This debate is crucial to make the Tory government take action to fix Universal Credit. Labour supports the original principles of the scheme to simplify the benefit system and make work pay, but not at the expense of pushing people into debt, living without heat or enough food while they wait for payments. The effects are felt particularly by children and the disabled. This is not the kind of society we want.

“The Citizens Advice Bureau alone has helped more than 100,000 people since Universal Credit was introduced. This cannot continue and people can no longer be fobbed off with excuses about IT and delays.

“Universal Credit in its current form is quite simply putting more people into debt and stripping them of their dignity and respect.  When agencies like Citizens Advice and Gingerbread are highlighting so many heart breaking issues it is time for this Tory government to listen and stop this roll out now.”

Last week another SNP MP urged the Prime Minister to hear first-hand the “horrifying” stories of those struggling under the roll-out of Universal Credit in Scotland.

Drew Hendry said a pilot of the single monthly payment in his constituency of Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey had been “nothing short of a disaster” and a “personal catastrophe” for many.

He has written to Theresa May to invite her to attend a summit in Inverness next month to hear from constituents directly affected.

“The DWP then demanded she attended a work capability assessment – against the advice of her furious GP,” the letter said.

Mr Hendry said more than 60% of his constituent caseload was related to Universal Credit, with his office dealing with more than 200 cases.