Universal Credit causing financial misery in Hamilton

Scottish benefit claimants are relying on emergency loans to support them until Universal Credit payments come through. 

Universal Credit website

Universal Credit is causing financial hardship for thousands

Statistics recently obtained from the Department of Work and Pensions reveal that £80 million has been paid out in advance loan payments since Universal Credit was rolled out into full service in Scotland.

Figures supplied from local Jobcentre data show that in Hamilton 7,540 advance payments have been made with an average value of £410 each.

Andrew Hilland

Andrew Hilland is Labour’s candidate for Lanark and Hamilton East

Commenting on the statistics, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Lanark and Hamilton East said:    

The United Nations recently condemned universal credit as a punitive and draconian system that is ‘fast falling into universal discredit.’

We are seeing this first-hand in Hamilton, as long payment delays drive hundreds of claimants into hardship, depression and despair.

This week the Tory Government announced £2.1 billion of funding to prepare for a no-deal Brexit.  Surely they can now find the money to fix our broken welfare system, and ensure that people get the help they need.


What is Universal Credit?

Universal Credit is a means-tested benefit for people of working age that replaced Income Support, Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Housing Benefit, Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit.

It was launched by the Tory/Lib Dem Coalition in 2013 in a phased rollout that has been beset by problems and faced fierce criticism.

Since October 2017 new claimants in Hamilton can only apply for Universal Credit rather than the old benefits it replaced.

However, a major criticism of Universal Credit is that new claimants have to wait up to five weeks to receive their money, causing extreme hardship for many.

Although new or existing claimants may apply for an advance payment it has to be paid back, via deductions from Universal Credit payments, usually over a 12  month period.


What it means for Hamilton

For new claimants in Hamilton, where the average advance payment is £423, this would mean a monthly deduction of £31.50 for a year.


Hamilton Jobcentre

Hamilton Jobcentre has made 7,450 advance payments to claimants


Universal Credit is forcing many people entirely dependent on benefits or on low incomes to borrow money just to tide themselves over while their claim is processed.

Of the 7,450 advance payments made by Hamilton Jobcentre 5,920 of these were to new claimants or claimants being transferred from older benefits. 

These figures are all the more shocking when you consider that Hamilton Jobcentre has 6,105 people on Universal Credit.

Even if some applicants have made multiple claims, the figures clearly show that the delay built into Universal Credit is causing hardship to thousands of people in Hamilton.

Scottish Labour has warned this latest revelation is yet further evidence that Universal Credit is failing those that it is intended to help and has called on the Tories to halt the system and take immediate steps to ensure those who need it most are getting the assistance they need.


The data cited in this article was obtained by Scottish Labour through a Freedom of Information request to the DWP.


02 August 2019


Posted by HLSLabour

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