The collective experience of our member organisations – and the people and communities that our member organisations work with – suggest that Universal Credit is too often resulting in people being less able to navigate the social security system, not being supported into decent employment, and pulling people into poverty and, often, extreme income crisis.
Universal Credit, as currently designed and delivered, is not working for the vast majority of people and communities across Scotland, and risks tightening the grip of poverty on people’s lives. To enable the policy to meet its initial aims, a range of actions are required.
SCoRSS members recommend the UK Government:
- Remove the five-week wait and put in place alternative arrangements that allow for non-repayable advance payments to be made.
- Provide suitable non-digital options for individuals to make and manage their Universal Credit claims and promote these options to claimants, particularly disabled people, people with health conditions and other complex needs.
- Invest in a package of reinvestment in Universal Credit, including by restoring the child element to its 2015/16 value and restoring the higher amount for first children, and removing the Two-Child Limit, its exemptions and the Benefit Cap.
- Uprate the entitlement of single-parents under 25 to the same rate as single-parents over 25.
- Introduce a right to an individual income which meets individual needs by separating the single household payment automatically at source, and ensuring that entitlements meant for children are paid directly to primary carer.
- End the punitive application of conditionality and sanctions, which is ineffective, complex, costly and stigmatising.
- Increase the support available for childcare and paying childcare costs upfront rather than in arrears, to prevent parents from getting into debt or giving up work in order to provide childcare. At a bare minimum, increase awareness of the Flexible Support Fund.
- Modify the assessment period, to ensure that people do not lose Universal Credit entitlement because they are paid more frequently than once a month; including when employers pay employees early because of holidays ( i.e. Bank Holidays and Christmas).