Falkirk residents face six-week wait for benefits

Job centres in Grangemouth and Falkirk could receive 1500 applications
Job centres in Grangemouth and Falkirk could receive 1500 applications

Fears have been raised for scores of people who will be forced to wait six weeks for vital benefit money.

The second tranche of the UK Government’s Universal Credit roll out starts on Monday, affecting almost 1500 in the area.

Claimants who get Job Seekers Allowance and other working-age benefits will have to apply for the new payment which involves a long wait for a first instalment.

Now, councillors say under-pressure foodbanks and crisis funds will be further stretched as people struggle to cope.

Falkirk Council leader Craig Martin said: “Universal Credit is paid monthly in arrears, so people will have to wait one month and seven days before receiving payments, putting more stress on organisations which help the most vulnerable in our society.

“It gets worse [in July] when the waiting period increases to one month and 14 days.”

Councillor Gerry Goldie said: “Politicians in Westminster are drinking champagne and they don’t know anything about the impact these changes will have.

“They should come here and see the hardship.

“For a main allowance, people could wait 35 days. How can they expect people to do this?”

Lower payments and the use of sanctions were also heavily criticised by Executive councillors on Tuesday.

Labour’s Linda Gow said: “These sanctions are barbaric. They are not only pushing people into poverty, they are stopping them getting out of it.”

Councillor Tom Coleman said: “I’m aghast at this. This will drive people into squalor; drive them further down.”

Following an amendment by the SNP’s David Alexander, councillors agreed to write to ministers to tell them of people’s plight and also investigate how Discretionary Housing Payments are paid.