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Davidson accused of ‘falsely’ claiming universal credit six-week wait has been scrapped

An SNP MSP has invited Ruth Davidson to the Highlands to see the consequences of Universal Credit’s botched roll-out, after the Scottish Tory Leader falsely claimed that the six week wait for payment after applying for Universal Credit had been scrapped by the UK Government.

Ms Davidson made the claim on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show on Sunday morning in an attempt to deflect uncomfortable questions about the damaging policy, the SNP claim.

In reality, according to the SNP, the changes announced by the UK Government only allow jobcentre staff to make claimants aware they can apply to receive advance payments within five working days, where they previously were not allowed to.

Any advance payment remains a loan that must be repaid – despite stats showing 52% of those who claim Universal Credit rely on the advance payment rather than being able to wait the in-built 6 week minimum wait.

Theresa May came under pressure from MPs across the political divide at PMQs over problems with Universal Credit – with “a head of steam building up” as the dreadful consequences of its botched roll-out become apparent.

Related: Penniless and reliant on foodbanks: how universal credit destroyed this mum’s life

Ruth Davidson has previously come under fire for making false claims about the ‘rape clause’, after she said all victims had to do was ‘tick a box’ – despite being required to fill out an 8-page form reliving their experience.

Related: Corbyn confronts May on ‘flawed’ universal credit roll-out

SNP MSP Maree Todd, MSP for the Highlands and Islands, has invited Ruth Davidson to visit the Highlands to hear more about the issues being faced by those in areas where Universal Credit has already been rolled out.

Commenting, Ms Todd said: “The devastating impact that Universal Credit is having on people in the Highlands and across the UK is being callously ignored by the Tories.

“Ruth Davidson’s claims that the six-week wait had been scrapped is totally incorrect – in reality, the only change is that jobcentre staff can now tell people they can receive advance payments, which are in effect loans that must be repaid to the DWP.

“This is not the first time that Ruth Davidson has tried to downplay the consequences of a deeply damaging Tory welfare cut – her repeated false claims about the rape clause did her absolutely no credit.

“I have seen first-hand in the Highlands the appalling impact that Universal Credit is having on my constituents. I would be happy to show Ruth Davidson exactly the problems this policy is causing for some very vulnerable people in our communities.

Related: Pressure grows to make universal credit helpline free of charge

“When even Tory MPs are standing up at PMQs to criticise the government over Universal Credit, we know there is a severe problem with the system – the UK government must immediately halt the Universal Credit roll out and go back to the drawing board.

“A head of steam is building up around the botched roll-out of Universal Credit, and very quickly Ruth Davidson and the Scottish Tories are going to have to decide whose side they are on – the side of the vulnerable, or the side of their Tory Westminster bosses.

“The quicker opposition parties back the SNP in calling for Scotland to get full powers and budgets over welfare so we can make decisions in the best interests of those in need, the better.”

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