Scottish charities call for halt to Universal Credit rollout
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The UK Government's new benefits system which combines different payments into a single award is flawed and must be halted in Scotland, a group of charities has warned.
Universal Credit, which replaces six welfare payments with one, has been rolled out gradually across the UK, but the process is set to be accelerated from October.
But in a letter published in The Times, 24 Scottish charities have said it has left "thousands" struggling.
Claimants must wait for six weeks before they recieve their first payment under the scheme, and the rollout should be stopped until the system can be fixed, they warn.
Signatories include Shelter, Oxfam, Citizens Advice Scotland, Children in Scotland, SCVO, Disability Agenda Scotland and the Poverty Alliance.
"In five years UC will be claimed by over 650,000 households in Scotland," the letter says.
"In principle, it is a good idea which should make life easier for both the claimant and the delivery agencies alike. However, having seen how UC has worked so far, it is clear that it is leaving thousands of people struggling to make ends meet. The flaws include a six week waiting period between a person’s claim and their initial payment.
"Another issue is that UC is an entirely online system, yet our evidence is that many applicants don't have access to computers or the skills to use them. Together, we believe the Government must halt the rollout of the benefit so that these and other flaws can be fixed before they harm any more people. This will require serious changes, not just minor adjustments."
Scotland will take control of 11 additional benefits after the Scotland Act 2016, but Universal Credit remains reserved to Westminster.
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