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Scot Lib Dems reveal thousands of Universal Credit recipients slipping into rent arrears

April 10, 2019 4:00 PM
Originally published by Scottish Liberal Democrats

Liberal Democrat Work and Pensions spokesperson Christine Jardine MP has today called for an end to "Conservative ministers cruelly balancing the books on the backs of the poorest", as she revealed new figures showing thousands more Scots in local authority housing have slipped into rent arrears since the roll out of Universal Credit.

A Scottish Liberal Democrat freedom of information request submitted to Scotland's 32 local authorities reveals that between the introduction of Universal Credit in Scotland and 22 January 2019, thousands of Scots in local authority housing have slipped into rent arrears.

The figures released by the party reveal:

  • Of the 36,500 Universal Credit claimants in local authority housing across 21 local authorities, 30,000 are in rent arrears;
  • At least 6,614 claimants entered rent arrears since Universal Credit roll out;
  • Universal Credit claimants owing up to £5,621 in rent arrears.

Ms Jardine said:

"This is exactly what we have been warning would happen, and it is happening all over the country.

"Universal credit has been a universal failure. It has helped push thousands more people into rent arrears.

"The roll out has been botched. This wasn't an accident, but the result of the Conservatives' cruel policies which sought to balance the books on the backs of the poorest.

"People have every right to demand better. Liberal Democrats have long campaigned for an urgent end to the benefits freeze and the restoration of the billions the Tories' siphoned off Universal Credit in 2015.

"Now the Government has acknowledged that Universal Credit has created a greater need for food banks, it is time they accepted it needs much more than tinkering.

"It's time Amber Rudd acted to reverse these problems."