Citizens Advice report on Universal Credit

Lanark and Hamilton East MP Angela Crawley has said the UK government must immediately implement radical reform to the Universal Credit system after a new report highlighted the systemic failure of the benefits system.

The report, published by Citizens Advice Bureau Scotland (CAS), shows damning evidence of the failures of the current system.

CAS sought the viewpoints and lived experience of claimants in a range of different circumstances including those newly out of work, looking for work and who are unable to work due to caring responsibilities or a disability.

Nearly 48% of people surveyed said they had to borrow or take an advance to get through the five-week wait for first payment.

Of those who are employed and claiming Universal Credit, 70% said they found it inadequate for their needs and one in three were cutting back on heating.

Of those unable to work, 54% said it was inadequate to meet their basic needs.

The report makes five key recommendations for reform:

  • Introducing a non-repayable assessment period grant at the beginning of all UC claims and replacing the DWP’s debt recovery process with a system that reflects people’s ability to pay.
  • A permanent increase to the basic allowance of UC.
  • A review of UC as an in-work benefit, including reintroduction of Work Allowances for everyone, to make sure UC properly supports those in employment.
  • Protecting and uprating support for people with disabilities and caring responsibilities.
  • Scrapping the benefit cap and the two-child limit.

Commenting, Lanark and Hamilton East MP Angela Crawley said: “This report is yet another damning inditement of the failings of Universal Credit and the UK Government’s shameful record on poverty.

“The failings of Universal Credit across Scotland coupled with the Tory cost of living crisis leaves thousands of low-income families forced to make the unthinkable decision of whether to heat their home or feed their children.

“Universal Credit is not fit for purpose. A total overhaul of the system is needed urgently, including scrapping the benefit cap and the two-child limit, and a permanent increase to the basic allowance of UC which is totally insufficient and morally indefensible.”