Lanark and Hamilton East MP Angela Crawley has condemned the “cruel poverty tax” which is affecting more than half of Universal Credit claimants in the constituency.
The SNP MP has demanded changes to the Universal Credit system after it was revealed 54 per cent of households in Lanark and Hamilton East claiming the benefit are being hit by a staggering £230,000 “poverty tax”.
In an answer to a Parliamentary Question from Glasgow South West MP Chris Stephens, it was uncovered that in November 2021, 180,000 households in Scotland had an average of £60 deducted from their social security payments, according to official figures.
The majority of this (44 per cent) was to pay back advance payment loans issued by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to see people through the five-week waiting period for the first Universal Credit payment.
Lanark and Hamilton East is one of ten Scottish constituencies in which over half of claimants are having their benefits clawed back to some extent.
In total, 4,000 households in the constituency saw their benefit reduced with an average monthly deduction of £57 per household.
Across Scotland, £10 million a month is being taken from claimants every month.
Commenting, Lanark and Hamilton East MP Angela Crawley said:
“This is essentially a cruel Poverty Tax on people who are struggling to heat their homes and put food on the table. My constituents in Lanark and Hamilton East alone have had £230,000 a month deducted from their Universal Credit payments.
“Universal Credit is meant to be a subsistence benefit that covers basic living costs. If £60 a month is being taken away from it, when living costs are rising rapidly, how are people meant to subsist?
“The upfront loans should be replaced by upfront grants, recovery of tax credit overpayments should be capped at a lower level, and debts that have not been pursued for more than six years should be written off entirely, in line with the approach taken in the private sector.”