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Making Universal Credit Work

Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) believes the Universal Credit (UC) system must change if the benefit is to work for all citizens across Scotland, and the rest of the UK. By ‘work’ CAS means the UC system should not cause financial destitution or debt, should be accessible to everyone and should support people who are in work.

Universal Credit briefing

Since the roll out of Universal Credit (UC) began, CAS has repeatedly raised concerns about fundamental elements of the design and delivery of the UC system.

Citizens Advice Bureaux (CAB) data, including Citizen Alerts (cases from local CAB), have shown the key problem elements of UC to be; the five week wait for first payment, the digital by default system, direct deductions from payments and increasing rent arrears caused by the cycle of payment in arrears.

CAS briefing - Social Security and In-Work Poverty

Citizens Advice Scotland has consistently raised a substantial number of issues associated with the rollout of Universal Credit that have caused stress, detriment or hardship to CAB clients. The rising level of in-work poverty during the last five years has also been a concern for CAS. 

CAS submission to Social Security Support for Housing inquiry

Advice provided by Scotland’s CAB network in relation to rent arrears has grown by over 40% since 2012, whilst debt-related issues experienced by CAB clients in Scotland have steadily declined over the same period. Given this long-term change, investigating the cause and consequences of rent arrears for CAB clients has been a policy priority for CAS.

CAS Briefing for Scottish Parliament debate on Social Security Charter

CAS sent a briefing to MSPs ahead of the 'Building a Social Security System Together: Co-designing the Social Security Charter' debate, highlighting suggestions for the Charter from CAB clients and advisers and encouraging an approach of co-production with people who have direct experience of using the current social security system.

CAS submission to Social Security and In-Work Poverty Inquiry

In 2017/18, Scotland’s CAB network provided advice on 19,047 issues related to Universal Credit (UC), which by the end of the period had only been rolled out to around half of Scotland’s local authority areas. Additionally, CAB advised clients on 10,562 Working Tax Credit and 11,499 Child Tax Credit issues, which are the main in-work benefits that will be replaced by UC.

CAS submission on Passported Benefits

In general, passported benefits play an important role in helping people to maximise their income and by providing help to meet specific essential costs that they would otherwise be unable to pay for. The myriad of passported benefits available includes help with the costs of the school day, health costs, legal costs, costs associated with raising babies and young children and the costs of essential utilities amongst others. They also provide vital support for disabled people, in the form of access to the Motability scheme, Blue Badges and concessionary bus travel.

26 Apr 2018
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Social Security (Scotland) Bill Stage 3 briefing

Citizens Advice Scotland welcomes the publication of the Bill and agrees with its general principles. The devolution of social security powers is an extremely significant development in the history of the Scottish Parliament and represents a unique opportunity to create a new system that has the potential to make a positive difference for tens of thousands of Scotland’s citizens.

Social Security (Scotland) Bill Stage 2 briefing - Amendments to Parts 3 to 5

Citizens Advice Scotland supports a number of amendments, including to make sure all new benefit payments are uprated annually with the cost of living; and to make sure no-one is criminalised for genuine error.


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