Scottish charities call for halt to roll-out of ‘flawed’ Universal Credit
A major change the benefits system, Universal Credit replaces six existing benefits with one, and is designed to make the benefits process easier. The government has been rolling it out gradually, testing it in selected areas, but an ‘accelerated rollout’ to the whole country is set to begin in October.
In five years, it is expected that Universal Credit will be claimed by over 650,000 households in Scotland.
The charities, which include Cyrenians, Shelter Scotland, SFHA, Homeless Action Scotland and the Housing Support Enabling Unit, said the change is a good idea “in principle” which should make life easier for both the claimant and the delivery agencies alike.
However, in the letter today to the Scottish edition of The Times, the charities say they have all seen vulnerable people suffer due to significant flaws in Universal Credit in the areas affected so far and urge the government to “halt and fix” the flaws before the system is rolled out further.
The letter reads: “Having seen how Universal Credit has worked so far, it is clear that it is leaving thousands of people struggling to make ends meet. The flaws include a six week waiting period between a person’s claim and their initial payment.
“Another issue is that Universal Credit is an entirely online system, yet our evidence is that many applicants don’t have access to computers or the skills to use them.
“Together, we believe the government must halt the rollout of the benefit so that these flaws can be fixed before they harm any more people. This will require serious changes, not just minor adjustments.
“Fundamentally, we need a benefits system that supports those in need, and it is in that spirit that we are calling to halt and fix Universal Credit.”
The full list of signatories includes: