Falkirk MSP slams claim that Universal Credit ‘disaster’ is a force for good
Falkirk East MSP Angus MacDonald has poured scorn on a UK Government claim that the Universal Credit (UC) welfare system is “a force for good”.
His comments - branding UC’s Scottish roll-out “a disaster” - come as new figures show that 19,242 people in Falkirk now claim entitlements under the controversial system, as compared with just 6,990 in Edinburgh and 10,031 in Glasgow.
Only Fife has a higher number of UC claimants, at close to 30,000.
UK government Minister for Welfare Delivery Will Quince said: “Universal Credit is a force for good, providing vital support across the length and breadth of Scotland and helping people into work”.
He argues UC provides a vital safety net to millions, preventing families from “falling through the cracks”.
He added: “We continue to make improvements – in the last month alone we have increased childcare support, announced new funding to help veterans and their families, and brought in new measures to crack down on fraudsters.”
The UK Government also says UC claimants move into work significantly faster and stay in work longer than under the old system.
However Angus MacDonald says UC - which replaces a raft of previous benefits with a single allowance - has taken a heavy toll on many of his constituents, and in areas across the country.
He said: “The Tories have completely failed to address the welfare disaster they have overseen since 2010.
“I believe Universal Credit should be radically reformed, and the disgraceful two-child cap on child tax credits along with the appalling rape clause must be scrapped immediately”.
The SNP man also points to a report from the Trussell Trust which appears to show soaring demand for food bank supplies in areas where Universal Credit has been in force for two years.
He added: “There is now a mountain of evidence that shows Universal Credit is not working and what fixes are needed to make it work, starting with the minimum five week wait - which for many is weeks longer.
“This leads immediately to financial hardship, and in the longer term the evidence shows that along with the other flaws in the system, contributes to rent arrears and debt.
“Experts are crying out for fundamental change to this system, which clearly doesn’t work”.
“It’s shocking that the Tories are still refusing to listen to the overwhelming evidence that their welfare changes have left vulnerable people struggling to afford essentials.
“Sadly, with the arrogant Boris Johnson in charge we should be prepared for more of the same, rather than the change we need”.