Foodbanks already noticing Universal Credit effect

© DC ThomsonRizwan has already noticed a difference following Universal Credit.
Rizwan has already noticed a difference following Universal Credit.

Campaigners say a reduction in the wait for people claiming Universal Credit payments does not go far enough.

The Chancellor announced in his Budget the controversial delay between claims being made and payments received will be cut from six weeks to five.

However, activists have warned claimants will still struggle to survive and say pressure on foodbanks and other charities will continue to mount.

Sarah Glynn, of the Scottish Unemployed Worker’s Network, said: “We’re not going to be grateful for small mercies.”

Universal Credit, which replaces six previous benefits, is being phased in across Scotland.

Foodbanks in Dundee say they have already recorded a rise in use since the payment was introduced in the city and Angus earlier this month.

Rizwan Rafik, from the Taught By Muhammad project, said reducing the delay by a week was unlikely to have much impact.

“Whether it’s five or six weeks, people still have to wait,” he said.

“If people need to wait five weeks for payment, how are they meant to survive?

“We’re already starting to get busy. And it’s not just because it’s winter, people are starting to use the foodbank because of Universal Credit.

“A lot of people will be in debt by the time they get Universal Credit.”

Sarah Glynn said the Scottish Unemployed Worker’s Network would fight on against the benefit changes, despite the reduction in the wait.

“It is a good thing, but they are only getting rid of one very nasty thing,” she said.

“It’s a small thing in the overall picture of everything that is wrong.

“People will still be a month in arrears.”

Dundee Labour councillor Michael Marra has called on the UK Government to use money saved from removing VAT on emergency services to protect community fire stations.

Mr Hammond announced that both Police Scotland and the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service will have their tax bills refunded in the future.

Mr Marra said: “We want to protect services. We do not want to see changes or services cut back.”