Poverty campaigners say the Scottish Government and other bodies must take action to protect people from increased poverty due to Universal Credit
Scotland’s government and social landlords must take urgent action to mitigate the worst impacts of Universal Credit (UC), campaigners have said.
Govan Law Centre is calling for a package of measures that will challenge the adverse impact of UC in Scotland.
The organisation says its casework across Glasgow already confirms that Universal Credit is causing misery and increasing poverty. It’s says it’s an unworkable social security policy, in its present form.
Mike Dailly of Govan Law Centre said: "With the full rollout of Universal Credit in Glasgow for new claimants in a few weeks much more must be done to tackle the crisis of Universal Credit until it can be devolved.
“The Scottish Government and all stakeholders need to act now, with interim measures, to reduce the misery.”
The body is calling for an urgent update of the Scottish pre-action court requirements to ensure no evictions for UC delays and associated problems, and to ensure that landlords proactively help tenants make direct payments for rent.
It also wants to prevent landlords deducting more than 5% of a tenant’s UC or disposable income for arrears of rent.
Social landlords should ensure tenants are made aware of the ability for direct payments from UC to rent. Finally, the law centre is calling for a national co-ordination of advice and intervention strategies in Scotland to limit the damage of UC.
UC will be received by over 600,000 households in Scotland, and the final roll out of is due to be completed on 5 December 2018. Importantly this includes the final parts of Glasgow, Scotland’s largest and poorest city.
UC was the UK Government’s flagship welfare reform that was designed to simplify the benefit system and make it easier for people to transition into work. However, it has now been cut so heavily, it is widely seen to be increasing misery rather than reducing poverty as promised.
A UN Special Rapporteur who said on 15 November that: “No single program embodies the combination of the benefits reforms and the promotion of austerity programs more than Universal Credit. Although in its initial conception it represented a potentially major improvement in the system, it is fast falling into Universal Discredit.”
Govan Law Centre believe the Universal Credit should be devolved to the Scottish Parliament so a new solution to in-work poverty can be found.
Govan Law Centre hopes to build a coalition of civic and third sector groups and trade unions who will support the need for Universal Credit to be devolved to Scotland.