Poorest people on benefits will be left without any cash for Christmas

Nicola Sturgeon says welfare benefits should be Holyrood’s responsibility.

By Democrat reporter

All poor families want for Christmas is some money to live on, but Santa Claus won’t be coming down the chimney of many people on Universal Credit.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon  said that folk having to wait for at least five weeks following their application for benefits was unacceptable.

Bruce Crawford (Stirling) (SNP) told the Scottish Parliament on Thursday: “Universal credit’s minimum five-week waiting period for payments means that anyone making a claim this week will need to survive until January without the money that they need to live and to which they are entitled.”

He urged Nicola Sturgeon to write urgently to the Department for Work and Pensions asking it to ensure that hardship payments are made available to everyone at the point of claiming.

“This utterly disgraceful situation has to be sorted out,” Bruce Crawford said.

Nicola Sturgeon said she wished she didn’t have to write and that Holyrood and not Westminster had responsibility for welfare benefits.

She added: “It is disgraceful that a family applying this week for universal credit—by definition, a family that is probably already struggling to make ends meet—will have to wait until after the Christmas period before they get the money to which they are entitled.

“How the Tories sleep at night knowing that is beyond me. That five-week waiting time is unacceptable at the best of times, but at this time of year it is particularly unacceptable.

“I saw the Prime Minister at Prime Minister’s questions yesterday trying to suggest that there is not a five-week waiting time.

“I suggest that she gets out and about and speaks to more people applying for universal credit than she clearly has, because people in the real world know exactly what the situation is.”

The First Minister added: “Yes, we will write to the DWP making that point, but we write to the DWP repeatedly on these matters and it does not listen.

“I will make a point that I have made many times before: the sooner we are in a situation where we do not have to write to the DWP asking it to do the right thing but have responsibility for these matters in this Parliament, the better off all of us will be.”

At last week’s full council meeting in Dumbarton, representatives of all parties roundly condemned the introduction of Universal Credit apart from the Conservatives.

Cllr Sally Page, who represents the Lomond Ward in Balloch, supports the new welfare benefits system and said it was “inevitable” that the government would press ahead with its introduction.


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