South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has accused MPS David Mundell and Alister Jack of a “massive dereliction of duty” after they failed to vote on the issue Universal Credit in the House of Commons yesterday (18 October).
The local MPs chose to abstain in the vote on a Labour motion calling for a pause in the roll-out of the disastrous new benefit which is causing misery for people on benefits across the country.
As a result of the mass “abstention” of Tory MPs in the vote yesterday, the Labour motion was passed by 299 votes to 0 but it remains to be seen whether the Tory Government will simply ignore the results of the vote.
Universal Credit has been delivered in Dumfries and Galloway since April 2016 but only for new claims from single people who in the past would have claimed Job Seekers Allowance, therefore claim volumes remain low at around 352 households. However, it will be implemented in full from February 2018 covering thousands of people on Job Seekers Allowance, Income Related Employment Support Allowance, Income Support, Housing benefit, Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit.
According to a report to members of Dumfries and Galloway Councils Communities this week:
“3.4 Current full service sites indicate that the claim numbers increase rapidly following go live date. Both East Lothian Council and Highland Council, which have been longest on UC Full Service, continue to report major increases in rent arrears which are not reducing through DWP recovery. Data gathered by these Councils also shows that average arrears for those in receipt of UC are more than two and a half times for those on Housing Benefit. In addition, Councils are incurring additional administrative costs because of added complexities and processes, significantly in excess of funding received from DWP. Our Council has been actively engaged with COSLA on this matter.”
Colin Smyth MSP said:
“Universal Credit is causing utter misery to people across the country because of the appalling way it is being implemented. There are horror stories of people having to wait at least 6 weeks just to have their application processed. At present the roll-out in Dumfries and Galloway is aimed at single people who would have claimed Job Seekers Allowance in the past but in a couple of months it will be rolled out to almost everyone on benefits in the region and the evidence suggests this will be disastrous hitting the poorest in our communities. Where it has already had a full roll out there have literally been queues at foodbanks and massive arrears have built up for local housing associations. We can expect to see the same in Dumfries and Galloway unless the roll out is halted by the Government and fully reviewed. It is therefore an utter disgrace that David Mundell and Alister Jack didn’t even have the guts to vote on the issue in Parliament. I appreciate that neither of them will have a clue what it is like to live in poverty but to sit on the face on an issue that will have such an impact on their constituents is a disgrace”.
The Dumfries and Galloway Councils Communities agenda 19 Oct. 17 can be viewed here:
The Labour motion to the UK Parliament on the roll out of universal credit can be viewed here: