Halifax MP Holly Lynch has called for an urgent review of the Government’s flagship Universal Credit scheme amid claims it is leading to debt and uncertainty.
Universal Credit which was rolled out in Calderdale in June is a new benefit for working age people replacing benefits such as Job Seekers Allowance and Tax Credits.
However, concerns have been raised over the design of the system, particularly the mandatory five to six week wait to receive a first payment, with claims that this is causing people serious financial difficulties.
Ms Lynch said: “It has been a difficult time for many in Halifax since this chaotic roll out began in June.
“Increasing numbers of local people are coming to my office for assistance with Universal Credit as they find that the five to six week wait before payments begin makes it extremely difficult to manage their finances.
“On one occasion my office were advised by the Department for Work and Pensions that a constituent should consider borrowing money from friends and family. For this to be official policy is appalling.
“Many of those claiming Universal Credit are in a difficult position, they may be disabled or at risk of homelessness, and a large proportion are in work yet on very low incomes. My concern is that they are being pushed into rent arrears and debt.
“While I support the principle of bringing different benefits together under one banner this badly designed roll out is causing serious harm and should be urgently reconsidered by the Conservative Government.”
Figures from the Department for Work and Pensions show that currently around 1,600 people in Halifax are now in receipt of Universal Credit which is increasing month on month as more are transferred over.
Research by Citizens Advice found that over half of new claimants are having to borrow money during this period to make ends meet.