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Universal Credit summary & SNP stance.

Bill Kidd MSP: Universal Credit

My colleagues in the SNP and I are firmly against Universal Credit and continue to call for an immediate halt to this failed policy. Full service Universal Credit will be introduced into the Anniesland constituency (via the Drumchapel job centre) on Wednesday 5th December 2018.

I have repeatedly brought this to the attention of the Scottish Parliament- asking the Scottish Government for their response and the First Minister for her response to Universal Credit. You can watch this below.

Whilst the SNP takes numerous issues against Universal Credit, this will be taking affect within our Anniesland constituency next month. Given this reality, it is vital that people are informed about what Universal Credit is and are aware of the delayed waiting times for payments (a minimum five week delay), which for many families will affect planning for Christmas. In many cases there has been a delay of 12 weeks.

I recommend taking the time to read advice from Citizen’s Advice Scotland (they also call on the UK Government to halt the rollout of the scheme) and the Money Advice Service. It is very important that you are fully aware of what you are entitled to and of what steps you may need to take to receive payments. 

If you do not have a bank account, then it is advisable that you set one up. You can speak to a bank or Citizen's Advice Bureau for advice on how to do this. The Universal Credit system is largely online, so if you do not have a computer then I would reccomend going to your local library. 

Please find below a basic summary of Universal Credit- what it is and how to access it- with links to explanatory guides. Universal Credit now has a freephone advice line that you can contact for further information as well.

Universal Credit Freephone Helpline: 0800 328 5644

You can also meet up with advisors from Citizen's Advice Scotland or if you are expriencing issues with receivng UC then consider attending one of Carol Monghan's (MP for North West of Glasgow) surgeries or one of my own.

I, along with my colleagues in the SNP here in the Scottish Parliament and in Westminster, will not stop speaking out for our constituents. We want a system which is fair and does not penalise the poorest in Scotland. The Scottish Government continues to prioritise fair policies and has ensured that Scottish recepients of UC have the option of receiving payments fortnightly rather than only monthly. Ultimately though, how this benefits system works needs to be radically changed by the UK Government. As the UN rapporteur on Human Rights and Extreme Poverty put it, "many aspects of the design and rollout of the prgramme have suggested that the DWP is more concerned with making economic savings and sending messages about lifestyles than responding to the multiple needs of those living with a disability, job loss, housing insecurity, illness and the demands of parenting... an inreasing body of reseach makes clear that there are far too many instances in which Universal Credit is being implemented in ways that negatively impact many claimants' mental health, finances, and work prospects."

 This system is unacceptable and clearly shows UK Government prioritisation of the richest above the poorest. 

 

BKS

 

 

Bill Kidd MSP


First Minister’s Question Time, 1st November 2018

 

Bill Kidd (Glasgow Anniesland) (SNP): 

Does the First Minister share my concern that this week’s United Kingdom budget was a missed opportunity to end the roll-out of universal credit? The chancellor’s proclamation that universal credit “is here to stay” risks driving more children into poverty and forcing families to depend on food banks, such as the five food banks in Glasgow Anniesland.

The First Minister (Nicola Sturgeon): 

Yes, I agree. The extra money that was announced for universal credit and the changes to the work allowances within it were of course welcome, but they do not go nearly far enough. Universal credit will still adversely affect many people and lead many people into rent arrears and debt that would otherwise be completely avoidable. I still take the view that universal credit should not be tinkered with; it should be halted. I hope that the Parliament continues to call on the UK Government to do exactly that.

I have quoted the Resolution Foundation a couple of times today. Interestingly, it has pointed out that the income tax threshold increases and the increases to universal work allowances

“do not offset the impact of the ... benefits freeze”

for lower-income households. The issue is not just about universal credit; it is about the overall impact of the welfare cuts, which as I said earlier are leading to a situation in which the richest in society will end up better off and the poorest in society will end up worse off. As we saw from Jackson Carlaw earlier, that is literally indefensible, and I hope that the Parliament continues to stand up against it.

 

General Question Time, 8th November 2018

 

 

Summary of Universal Credit (from the Mondey Advice Service)

What is Universal Credit?

Universal Credit is a single benefit for people of working age. It replaces these existing benefits and tax credits:

  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Housing Benefit
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Child Tax Credit

What’s different about Universal Credit?

If you don’t already have a bank account that can make and receive payments, you’ll have to set one up.

You can ask to get two monthly payments, instead of one (as is the case in England), and can ask to pay your landlord directly.

Will I be asked to claim Universal Credit?

If you are making a new claim, you will be asked to apply for Universal Credit. You can apply here: https://www.gov.uk/apply-universal-credit 

People currently claiming the benefits to be replaced by Universal Credit will be moved onto it at some point. You will be told when this is happening and you don’t need to do anything unless your circumstances change. If they do, you’ll need to tell the DWP and you may be asked to claim Universal Credit.

Will I be worse off moving onto Universal Credit?

The way your Universal Credit payment will be worked out uses different rules. In some circumstances, you may be able to claim what's called Transitional Protection if moving onto Universal Credit means you will get less money than you were getting in your old benefits. However, it depends on why you're moving.

If you are currently getting any of the benefits being replaced by Universal Credit and you have a change of circumstances that means you will now have to make a new claim for Universal Credit, you won’t qualify for Transitional Protection.

However, it is proposed that if you’re on any of the benefits being replaced and are asked by DWP to move onto Universal Credit, you may qualify for Transitional Protection if all the following things apply:

  • your UC award is less than you’re getting in your current benefits
  • you have no changes in circumstances

You will continue to get Transitional Protection until your Universal Credit award catches up through increases in payments, or the family has a significant change in circumstances.

Your Transitional Protection will end if:

  • the amount of UC you're entitled to decreases to nothing
  • your partner leaves or joins the household
  • there is a sustained (3 month) drop in earnings so that you move into a more intensive conditionality requirement
  • you or your partner (or both of you) stop working.

Otherwise Transitional Protection will be reduced in line with any other increases in your benefit.

 

How long will I have to wait for my first payment?

One of the big differences between Universal Credit payments and the way existing benefit payments are paid is that you will be paid monthly in arrears.

This means you might have to wait several weeks for your first payment – on average around five weeks.

If you think you will miss essential bill payments during this time, talk to people that you might owe money to, like your energy supplier,to discuss what you can do. They might be able to offer support, like energy grants or lower tariffs.

If you are worried about going into debt or don’t know what to say to people you owe money to, a free debt adviser will be able to talk through things you can do.

Do this as soon as you can to avoid debts piling up. Eight out of ten people tell us they feel less stressed and anxious after getting debt advice.

 

If you’re worried about paying your rent

Making you sure you keep a roof over your head can be a major worry if you have to wait several weeks for your first payment.

It’s important you talk to your landlord straightaway and let them know you are waiting for the money to be paid.

When you have got your first Universal Credit payment date, set up a Direct Debit or a standing order to pay your rent as soon as your Universal Credit payment or salary (if you’re working) comes in to your bank account. You may have to change your rent date.

The Housing element of your Universal Credit payment may not cover all your housing costs if you have too many bedrooms for your needs or your rent is higher than the amount that you are entitled to.

If you are facing a rent shortfall, talk to your local council about applying for a Discretionary Housing Payment.

If you’re already in rent arrears talk to your work coach about setting Direct Payments to your landlord. This means your rent payments will go straight to them until you can get back on your feet again.

 

If you've little or no money coming in

If you will really struggle to manage until your first payment you can ask for an advance payment from your work coach.

You can get up to a full month’s payment as an advance. But you will have to pay this back from future Universal Credit payments over 12 months – so only apply for as much as you need.

Your work coach may also be able to put you in touch with local support and help you can get with everyday costs, such as food and gas or electricity payments.

You can call the free Universal Credit helpline on:

Telephone: 0800 328 9344
Textphone: 0800 328 1344

If you already have an online account and journal you should call the Universal Credit full service helpline on:

Telephone: 0800 328 5644
Textphone: 0800 328 1344

8am - 6pm, Monday to Friday (closed on bank and public holidays). Calls are free.

 
Further Advice

https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en/articles/universal-credit-if-you-live-in-scotland 

https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/scotland/benefits/universal-credit/ 

 

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