UNIVERSAL CREDIT PARTLY TO BLAME FOR INCREASE IN FOODBANK USE

For immediate release:

UNIVERSAL CREDIT PARTLY TO BLAME FOR INCREASE IN FOODBANK USE

Rutherglen MSP Clare Haughey has renewed her calls for radical reform of Universal Credit after DWP boss Amber Rudd finally admitted the system was leaving people without food.

Universal Credit was rolled-out to South Lanarkshire by the UK Government in October 2017, and has been the subject of a number of controversies since.

Foodbank providers and other experts have consistently argued that there was a direct link between UK Government welfare reform and the staggering rise in food poverty.

Last November, statistics provided by the Trussell Trust, the charity which operates Rutherglen and Cambuslang Foodbank, showed that between April 1 and September 30 2018, 2340 three-day emergency food supplies were given to people in crisis in the Rutherglen constituency.

Across the UK, the Trust network distributed 658,048 three-day emergency food supplies, a rise of 13% for the same period the previous year.

Built into the Universal Credit system is a five-week delay in receiving the first payment, and the Trussell Trust network has been calling for a reduction in the wait.

Now for the first time, the UK Government has admitted there is a direct connection between Universal Credit and foodbank use. The Secretary for Work and Pensions conceded:

“It is absolutely clear that there were challenges with the initial rollout of Universal Credit –and the main issue that led to an increase in food bank use could have been the fact that people had difficulty accessing their money early enough.”

Rutherglen MSP Clare Haughey is reiterating her calls for Universal Credit to be fundamentally reformed by implementing changes like fixing the in-built payment delay, as well as scrapping the two-child cap on child tax credits and the associated rape clause.

Commenting, the local MSP said:

“We have known for years that UK Government cuts were driving up foodbank demand – yet politicians preferred to stick their fingers in their ears than accept reality.

“Finally, Amber Rudd has admitted that Universal Credit has left people penniless – although that admission fell well short of the apology required – and she must accept that her government were wrong to previously deny the link.

“The impact in Rutherglen and Cambuslang has been undeniable. Incomes cut by hundreds or even thousands of pounds, vital support being removed from disabled people, claimants left without money for months on end, and families forced to rely on foodbanks and emergency aid just to get by.

“Universal Credit must be reformed now to save the people and communities of Rutherglen and Cambuslang from facing further devastating hardship.”

ENDS

Notes:

Further information on Amber Rudd’s admission can be found below:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-47203389

Reality Check: Previous denials over welfare reform impact (Oct 2018):

https://gallery.mailchimp.com/4fae14f57a18ee08253ffc251/files/50491072-fde7-4ba2-a966-b7cb95341d5a/Reality_Check.pdf

Foodbank statistics referenced can be found in the email below:

Sent: 06 November 2018 10:59
To: Haughey C (Clare), MSP <Clare.Haughey.msp@parliament.scot>
Subject: The Trussell Trust – Mid-Year Stats Release

Dear Ms Clare Haughey MSP,

I’m writing from The Trussell Trust, a charity which runs a network of over 428 foodbanks across the UK.

Between 1st April and 30th September in Rutherglen, 2340 three-day emergency food supplies were given to local people in crisis, with 647 going to children.

Across the UK, foodbanks in The Trussell Trust network distributed 658,048 three day emergency food supplies to help people in crisis, a rise of 13% for the same period last year. Of these, 232,761 went to children. This is a measure of volume rather than unique users, and on average people needed 1.7 foodbank referrals in a six month period.

Scotland has seen a 15% increase in the number of food supplies distributed compared to the same period last year.

The Trussell Trust is calling for the reduction in the 5 week minimum wait for the first UC payment, to prevent even more people being forced to foodbanks this winter.

The Trussell Trust has released its Mid-Year statistics, including regional breakdowns, today. The press release for each nation is available here and the statistics are available on the Trussell Trust website here.
The Trussell Trust have developed a Universal Credit Action Pack that sets out 5 keys ways in which you, as an elected representative, can help foodbanks, claimants, and other local agencies dealing with the effects of Universal Credit (UC) roll-out.

 

Date published: 13th February 2019

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