UK Government ministers who tried to “brush aside” concerns about the roll-out of Universal Credit have been humiliated in the Commons.
That’s the view of Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East MP Stuart McDonald, who said the government - “staring defeat in the face” - had forced its MPs not to take part in a crunch vote calling for a halt to the further expansion of the new system.
While the 299-zero vote does not compel the Government to act, Mr McDonald says the distress the launch of the system has already caused in his constituency and elsewhere amounts to a compelling case for a pause in the process.
He said: “The aims of Universal Credit are welcome, but the simple fact is that full service roll-out is not delivering them.
“Instead, in too many cases it is causing confusion, stress, financial crises, arrears and debt, and is threatening families with homelessness, including in Kirkintilloch in my constituency.”
He says research from Citizens Advice Scotland showed that in areas with Universal Credit in place debt, rent arrears and financial hardship are all significantly higher.
After the Commons vote he said: “I’m glad that we managed to make clear to the Conservative Government that parliament does not support the roll out of Universal Credit in its current form.
“These changes are driving families into debt and increasing financial hardship across the regions where it has already been rolled out, including the Kirkintilloch East part of my constituency.
“People are waiting six weeks – and more - before receiving any support at all, forcing them to opt for short term loans and increased debt.
“The government should pause its roll out and fix these fundamental flaws in the system before even thinking of recommencing it.”