Universal Credit (Roll-out)

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 5th October 2017.

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Photo of Nicola Sturgeon Nicola Sturgeon Scottish National Party

Yes, we will. Indeed, we have already done so; we have been making an argument to the UK Government that universal credit should not be rolled out further until it has confidence—and can demonstrate to the public its confidence—that the system works properly.

During the recent election campaign, I visited Inverness and talked not only to people who were operating a food bank but to recipients of universal credit, who told me about delays and the impacts and consequences of those delays: people getting into debt; people running up significant rent arrears; and huge misery, stress and anxiety being caused to some people in our country who are already in a very vulnerable situation. That is completely unacceptable, and I do not think that any Government should in good conscience continue with the roll-out of universal credit while those concerns continue. We will continue to make that case strongly to the UK Government.

Of course, we have seen this week not only the vote in the chamber but the coming into force of some of the flexibilities around universal credit that this Government has insisted on using. There are new powers to allow, for example, for more frequent payments to be made and for the housing components to go direct to landlords. That is perhaps a small but significant way in which we can help ensure that the most vulnerable are being properly cared for. However, I have significant and very serious concerns about universal credit and the misery that it will cause, and I hope that we can join together to call on the UK Government to do the right thing.