SNP MP Chris Stephens has said the UK social security system is broken after a government response revealed that some of Scotland’s poorest families were forced to pay back £9 million in just one month.
In a response to the MP for Glasgow South West, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) admitted that £8.99 million was clawed back from Universal Credit recipients in Scotland last August alone, with £4.69 million of it used to repay the loans they had taken to cover basic living costs for the five weeks they had to wait before their first Universal Credit payment.
In Glasgow South West of the £190,000 in deductions, £110,000 was for Universal Credit Advance Repayment deductions.
The DWP admitted last month that it deducted a total of £50 million from Universal Credit claimants in the UK in just one month to pay back advance payment loans.
The DWP’s own figures show that in addition to this, a further £44 million is being deducted to repay previous overpayments, errors, arrears, or fines, leaving all too many claimants on the brink of destitution.
Food banks report that the deduction of such eye-watering sums from Universal Credit payments is behind a growing number of referrals for food parcels.
Commenting, Chris Stephens MP said: “In Scotland, almost £9million is taken out of people’s pockets a month, leaving too many of our citizens relying on the support of food banks.
“It is clear that the DWP advance payment system simply doesn’t work, and that the UK welfare system is broken.
“I would urge all Parliamentary colleagues to look at these figures and to press the UK government to build a social security system fit for purpose, starting with scrapping the five-week wait and introducing the first payment within the first two weeks of a claim without the need to pay it back.
“The current system is a vicious circle of debt.
“In Scotland, we are taking a different approach and building a social security system based on fairness, dignity and respect – it’s about time the Tories followed suit.”