The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations and two charities have called for the implementation of the welfare system to stop
Scottish third sector leaders have joined the growing movement against Universal Credit, calling for the rollout to be halted.
The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO), the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA) and One Parent Families Scotland (OPFS) have written to Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Esther McVey calling for an end to the "deeply flawed" welfare system.
The letter to the secretary of state has said that a pilot of the system has left people trapped in poverty, debt and crisis – leaving the organisations seriously concerned about the prospects for the upto 652,000 Scots set to claim Universal Credit by 2023.
SCVO chief executive Anna Fowlie said: “It is clear that as a result of austerity, the rollout of Universal Credit has been underfunded.
“SCVO, the SFHA, OPFS and others would welcome additional investment, however, until the fundamental flaws in the system are fixed and the crude way Universal Credit is administered revisited, the levels of poverty experienced by those reliant upon their right to social security is unlikely to improve significantly.
“Universal Credit fails the people it is designed to support. As currently administrated, Universal Credit is not fit for purpose and must be halted.”
The letter highlights issues such as claimants facing a five-week wait for their first payments, new claimants not receiving their first instalments in full, individuals being unaware of overpayments which are then claimed back and assessments being based on a one-off assessment.
It also criticises the administration of Universal Credit: with payments described as bad for gender equality, individuals put under pressure to take part in employment schemes that are low paid and incompatible with caring roles, and the two child limit putting a further 200,000 children into poverty.
Criticism of the system has intensified in recent weeks, and leaked documents obtained by the BBC reveal major changes could be on the way both in terms of when Universal Credit will be fully rolled out and what measures will be put in place to support people as they switchover.
A Department for Work and Pensions statement said it was taking a "a slow and measured approach to managed migration [of the system]" and wanted "to ensure the system is working well for claimants and to make any necessary adaptations as we go".
"We will publish full plans for the next stage of Universal Credit rollout, including managed migration, in due course. Anything before that point is speculation and we do not comment on leaks."