Dundee’s two MPs have called on the rollout of Universal Credit to be stopped after research found foodbank use has rocketed in areas where the new benefit has been introduced.
Universal Credit is replacing six older benefits, including income support and housing benefit, and is being introduced in phases around the country.
People in Dundee began being switched over to Universal Credit in November.
New research has found that foodbank use rose by 52% in areas where it is in place — four times higher than the increase in areas where it has not been rolled out.
Between April 2017 and April this year, 7234 three day emergency food supplies were given to people facing crisis by the Trussell Trust Foodbank Network in Dundee, more than 2000 of which were for children.
Now Dundee’s SNP MPs have called for the urgent halt of the roll-out of Universal Credit.
Dundee West MP Chris Law said: “I have spoken with Dundee Foodbank, who confirmed to me that Universal Credit and other benefits changes are definitely having an adverse effect on claimants.
“The five-week wait for first payment of Universal Credit means many have to enter arrears to feed and house themselves, a situation that claimants can struggle to break out of even after receiving their first payment.”
“This is simply unacceptable.
“We know that changes that the Scottish Government has helped implement have made a significant difference for claimants, such as the ability for landlords to be paid direct from the system, but the UK Government must do far more to make this system fit for purpose.
“Until then, they must pause its roll-out across the country and our city, and for once actually help those they claim are to benefit.”
Dundee East MP Stewart Hosie added: “We have seen time and time again the damage that the roll-out of universal credit has done to families and communities across this country, it’s time the UK Government reconsidered their course of action before more families are forced into poverty”
“These reports prove what the SNP have been saying for years — that this Tory government is heartless and dangerous. It is a disgrace that so many people are having to rely on emergency food parcels just to survive.”
The research, by Sky News Line 18, also found that 73% of all housing association tenants on Universal Credit are in rent arrears across the UK, compared to just 29% of those who have not transferred to the new benefit.
Line 18 also found that 73% of housing association tenants on Universal Credit are in rent arrears across the UK, compared to just 29% of those not yet transferred.