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.
These issues, which have affected in-work, as well as out of work clients, include:
- An in-built five week delay before people receive their first UC payment
- Administrative delays which have prolonged this waiting period further, or have resulted in elements missing from clients’ UC payments
- Clients struggling to make and manage a claim entirely online
- Increased rent arrears amongst tenants receiving Universal Credit
- Direct deductions to repay advances, overpayments or historic debts being taken at levels that leave people in hardship
- Difficulties making an initial appointment at the Jobcentre as part of the claim process (in particular, for clients who are working during the jobcentre’s usual business hours)
The rising level of in-work poverty during the last five years has also been a concern for CAS. According to the latest official figures, 59% of working-age adults in relative poverty after housing costs were living in working households. Citizens Advice Scotland has previously published research on some of the causes of in-work poverty in Scotland, including the rise of zero hours contracts, low pay, childcare costs as well as issues with the benefits system.