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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

TFN is published by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6BB. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Registration number SC003558.

Government needs to provide more support for Universal Credit fallout

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Organisations are struggling to cope with demand on services created by Universal Credit

An MP has challenged David Gauke over the support the government gives Citizens Advice Bureaux (CABs) and wider third sector to help benefits claimants through the Universal Credit process.

Martin Whitfield has asked the work and pensions secretary if the UK government will provide additional funding to assist third sector groups with this “vital support.”

The Labour MP for East Lothian said there is an increasing amount of evidence that showed charities were struggling to cope with the extra demand placed on them by the new benefits’ regime.

He said: “Advisers in CABs and local authority welfare advice teams are helping people to navigate their way through the universal credit system as best they can, often with little or no additional resources.

“As Universal Credit is rolled out to the rest of the country, CABs and others in the third sector will face even greater demand on their services.

“The problems surrounding Universal Credit are entirely of the government’s own making. It should be doing much more to support the third sector and local authorities to deal with the increased workload that the roll out of Universal Credit is creating.”

Many charities and welfare groups have warned they are struggling to cope with exra demand placed on their services as a consequence of the new system which has been beset by delays and errors.

Britain's biggest foodbank charity, the Trussell Trust, said that in areas where the full Universal Credit rollout has taken place, referral rates were running at more than double the national average as claimants have been left unable to afford meals while their benefits are delayed.

Whitfield added: “Unfortunately, as with calls to halt the roll out of universal credit and rethink its implementation, ministers appear to be unwilling to do more to assist the voluntary sector with the significant task it is undertaking to support claimants through the process.”