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Universal Credit

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:29 pm on 17th October 2018.

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Photo of Alison Thewliss Alison Thewliss Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Treasury), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Housing, Communities and Local Government) 4:29 pm, 17th October 2018

I do not have much time, so I will concentrate on the three myths about this system that the Tories are perpetuating again and again. The first is that we somehow want to go back to the system of legacy benefits, but that is patently nonsense. The National Audit Office says that we are now past the point of no return and cannot go back. Ellenor in my office is brilliant at helping my constituents navigate the complex system. She has the Child Poverty Action Group book, which is inches thick, and she navigates the system every day and gets people the money they are due. However, the system is incredibly complex, and we need to see universal credit fixed before people are hurt further by the system.

The second is that advance payments are somehow the solution to the problem. They are not. They simply make people rob themselves months in advance, but the Grinch who is stealing Glasgow’s Christmas suggested yesterday that that is what people in Glasgow should do. I spoke to a local primary headteacher in Glasgow last week, and she knows the parents that she deals with in her school. She knows that they will do absolutely everything they can this Christmas to ensure that they can put food on the table for their kids and that they will get presents, but the cost of that will be severe in January, February, March and all the way through next year. Those families will be in severe debt, and they will not be able to get out of it.

The final myth is that work always pays. Work does not always pay under this Government, it does not always pay under universal credit, and it will not pay for the woman who came to my advice surgery who currently has five children. If she moves onto universal credit, she will be out by £700 a month. There is no way on God’s green earth that she will be able to make that up through work or through any other means. All that universal credit will do is put her family into poverty. The system needs to be fixed, and it needs to be stopped before Glasgow gets into serious trouble.