Campaigning SNP MP, Chris Stephens, has slammed the Tory government for clawing back £50 million in Universal Credit loan repayments from some of the poorest in the UK in just one month – saying it is a clear sign of a flawed policy.
In a response to a Written Question submitted to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) by Mr Stephens, the appalling cost of the Tories’ five-week wait for Universal Credit was laid bare.
In August 2019 – the latest period for which figures are available – the DWP deducted £50 million from Universal Credit claimants to pay back loans they had to take to cover basic living costs for the five weeks they have to wait before their first Universal Credit payment.
The DWP’s own figures show that in addition to the £50 million, 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, SNP MP for Glasgow South West, said: “This is an incredible sum. The figures lay bare that the five-week policy simply isn’t working – it just drives people further into poverty.
“The DWP is removing £50 million from people each month to pay for its own ridiculous policy of making them wait weeks and weeks for Universal Credit payments.
“Unless the DWP moves to a policy where benefits are paid promptly the queues for food banks in Glasgow, and across the country, will continue growing.
“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.”