Scottish National Party Work and Pensions spokesperson Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP has called on Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith to end the UK government’s Universal Credit scheme “sooner rather than later” following reports from senior Whitehall sources that the controversial flagship welfare reform risks being drastically scaled back or abandoned due to failings.
Iain Duncan Smith has previously rejected claims that his flagship welfare policy was a "debacle" after Dr Whiteford raised the issue in the House of Commons. A Parliament report had stated that the Universal Credit scheme has been so badly managed it was about to write-off up to £425 million - £36 million of which reflects Scotland’s pro-rata share.
Under the government's plans, six key means-tested benefits - jobseeker's allowance, employment support allowance, housing benefit, working tax credit, income support and child tax credit - are to be combined into a single payment. It has been delayed following a number of pilots earlier this year.
The Scottish Government have stated in its White Paper that Universal Credit will be halted with independence. It will be for future Scottish governments to develop reforms to a Scottish welfare system.
Commenting, Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP said:
“Iain Duncan Smith needs to end Universal Credit sooner rather than later, before more money is wasted.
“The implementation of Universal Credit has been a complete fiasco right from the start. A committee report has highlighted many problems with the project including officials being unable to explain the reasoning behind their timescales or their feasibility, inept computer systems, and no real management. We already knew the Tory- Lib Dem government’s welfare reforms were discriminatory, but we can also see the extent of how badly managed this project is.
“What makes this all the more galling is that 82% of Scottish MPs opposed this, and Scottish tax-payer’s money is being wasted in the process.
“It doesn’t have to be this way. Scotland has already made its opposition to welfare cuts absolutely clear, and a majority of Scots believe that the Scottish Government would be best at deciding welfare policy for Scotland. A YES vote in September will make this a reality.”