Why would any Government in a civilised society continue to roll out a new policy that it knows is going to hurt tens of thousands of people, will drive people into debt and towards relying on charity to feed themselves, and will result in even more people in our country being driven into poverty?
That cannot be right, and it is not right.
The Tory party must think again. It must listen to civic Scotland and stop the accelerated roll-out of universal credit.
I held a members debate in the Scottish Parliament on this issue, and you can see what I said above. To watch the full debate, click here.
The motion that was debated is at the end of the page.
Further to this motion, I wrote to every MP across the UK to call on them to support the call made by Citizens Advice Scotland. I also specifically wrote the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions David Gauke MP as well as the leader of the Scottish Tories Ruth Davidson MSP.
I know that local Citizens Advice Bureaux and other community organisations are on the frontline of trying to support people who are being impacted by Universal Credit and the experience to date demonstrates how harmful this change is for thousands of people up and down Scotland.
The more we can build support across Scotland for the call by Citizens Advice Scotland then I think the more chance of getting the Tory Party both in Scotland and Westminster to listen.
Motion Number: S5M-07056
Lodged By: Alex Rowley
Date Lodged: 08/08/2017
Title: Support for Citizens Advice Scotland’s Call to Stop Accelerated Roll-out of Universal Credit
That the Parliament notes with concern the reported evidence from Citizens Advice Bureaux regarding the initial roll-out areas in Scotland, and elsewhere in the UK, which it believes highlights that the reality of universal credit risks leaving many people in Scotland without the support they need, pushing them into debt and leaving them unable to make ends meet; is further concerned that Citizens Advice Scotland, it understands, has reported that evidence from initial roll-out areas shows that, since universal credit was introduced, bureaux have seen a 15% rise in rent arrears issues compared to a national decrease of 2%, and an 87% increase in Crisis Grant issues compared to a national increase of 9%, and that two of the five bureaux in impacted areas have seen a 40% and 70% increase in advice about access to food banks, compared to a national increase of 3%; notes the call from Citizens Advice Scotland and a host of antipoverty organisations across Scotland for the UK Government to pause the accelerated roll-out of universal credit until the reported design and delivery problems have been addressed; notes the comments from the Chair of Citizens Advice Scotland, Rory Mair, that “universal credit has major delivery and design flaws which risk hurting families instead of helping them. These include long waits for payments that push people into crisis and debt, all the while battling a highly complicated process with little support”; considers that it is not right to proceed with the accelerated roll-out of universal credit in the knowledge that it will, it believes, result in tens of thousands of men, women and children in the Mid Scotland and Fife region and across Scotland being driven into debt and rent arrears and having to turn to foodbanks just to survive, and notes the calls on the UK Government to pause the process, listen to the evidence and act accordingly to address the issues.