At Cyrenians we journey with people who are in real hardship, such as people at the risk of homelessness, people who are struggling with addictions, mental health issues and those who are in real financial hardship. Many of whom will become subject to the universal credit roll-out in the coming year .
We provide practical, financial and emotional support to people who are truly vulnerable and universal credit is an additional pressure on people who are already at or even past breaking point.
That’s why we at Cyrenians, along with twenty four other charities, are supporting the call for Universal Credit roll-out to be paused, so that lessons can be learned and this well-intentioned policy can be implemented in a way that supports people rather than works against them.
The letter, published in The Times today, can be read below.
Commenting on the letter, Ewan Aitken, Chief Executive at Cyrenians said:
“To ask someone at a time of crisis to wait six weeks for a decision on receiving benefits is a cruel and unnecessary burden to pile on to a vulnerable person or family. In addition, we regularly see clients who need support getting on-line, or trouble accessing computers. UC is an entirely on-line system and will further exclude more people.
Accordingly, we are joining the call to halt the roll-out of Universal Credit, so that a system is delivered that supports those in need.”
31st August 2017
The UK Government decided to phase the rollout of Universal Credit (UC) on a ‘test and learn’ basis, prior to an accelerated rollout beginning in October this year. This was a sensible approach to a very major change.
In five years UC will be claimed by over 650,000 households in Scotland. In principle, it is a good idea which should make life easier for both the claimant and the delivery agencies alike.
However, having seen how UC has worked so far, it is clear that it is leaving thousands of people struggling to make ends meet.
The flaws include a six week waiting period between a person’s claim and their initial payment.
Another issue is that UC is an entirely online system, yet our evidence is that many applicants don’t have access to computers or the skills to use them.
Together, we believe the Government must halt the rollout of the benefit so that these and other flaws can be fixed before they harm any more people. This will require serious changes, not just minor adjustments.
Fundamentally, we need a benefits system that supports those in need, and it is in that spirit that we are calling to halt and fix UC.
Ewan Aitken, CEO, Cyrenians; Jackie Brock, CEO, Children in Scotland; Graeme Brown, Director, Shelter Scotland; Yvette Burgess, Director, Housing Support Enabling Unit; Claire Cairns, Network Co-ordinator, Coalition of Carers in Scotland; Annie Gunner Logan, Director, Coalition of Care and Support Providers; Neil Henery, Director, Camphill Scotland; Delia Henry, Chair, Disability Agenda Scotland; Peter Kelly, Director, The Poverty Alliance; Jamie Livingstone, Director, Oxfam Scotland; Rory Mair, Chair, Citizens Advice Scotland; Richard Meade, Head of Policy and Public Affairs, Marie Curie Scotland; Robin McAlpine, Director, Common Weal; Suzanne Munday, CEO, Minority Ethnic Carers of People Project; Satwat Rehman, Director, One Parent Families Scotland; Emma Ritch, Executive Director, Engender; Pete Ritchie, Director, Nourish Scotland; Bill Scott, Director of Policy, Inclusion Scotland; Theresa Shearer, CEO, ENABLE Scotland; Martin Sime, CEO, Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations; Sally Thomas, CEO, Scottish Federation of Housing Associations; George Valiotis, CEO, HIV Scotland; Dr David Webster, Glasgow University; Meg Wright, Director, Carers Trust Scotland; Gavin Yates, CEO, Homeless Action Scotland.