The first year of Universal Credit having been rolled out in the Stirling area (June 2017 – June 2018) has seen a £30,609.77 rise in Crisis Grants through the Scottish Welfare Fund being made by Stirling Council, based on previous year (June 2016 – June 2017).
An FOI request made by the SNP has also found that 66% of people who are referred to a food bank by the local authority are claimants of Universal
Commenting on these figures, Stirling SNP MSP Bruce Crawford said:
“The Scottish Welfare Fund was set up by the Scottish Government to support people who had been so severely sanctioned by the DWP that they couldn’t afford the basics. The fact that this has risen by such a large amount in the first year of Universal Credit itself demonstrates that this is a broken system that is punishing the most vulnerable people in our communities.
“In addition to this, the fact that two thirds of people that the Council are referring to the food bank are Universal Credit claimants is a horrifying statistic. This shows that the Tory Government’s system is resulting in people not being able to feed themselves or their families.
“Universal Credit has been badly managed from the start. It must be halted immediately and its fundamental flaws fixed by Tory ministers.”
Stirling Council Leader Scott Farmer added:
“Stirling Council has already seen a rise in rent arrears to £200,000 for people on Universal Credit. These figures today demonstrate that the pain and suffering doesn’t end there.
“In a modern society, the Scottish Government and Stirling Council shouldn’t have to intervene with emergency crisis grants and referrals to a food bank in response to the UK Government’s cruel rollout of benefit sanctions and broken welfare systems.
“Many people were forced into deep hardship over the Christmas period because of Universal Credit.
“It is the view of the Administration on Stirling Council that Universal credit must be halted immediately. Given what we know about the suffering that it continues to cause, for any Tory to continue to support this programme would simple be callous.”