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The SNP has today called on the UK Government to “get a grip” of the Universal Credit social security as a Citizens Advice study finds built-in benefit delays are leaving people with debt and forcing them to use food banks.

Universal Credit rules require claimants to wait 42 days before receiving their first payment, leaving them with just a single week’s payment to last six weeks.  The Citizens Advice study found that 60 per cent of respondents to their study found it “very difficult” to pay for bills and buy food as a result of the delay.

New Trussell Trust figures published today show that social security delays are the single biggest reason for people using food banks in Scotland – accounting for 28 per cent of emergency food aid referrals.

Commenting, West Dunbartonshire SNP MP Martin Docherty said:

“We already know that social security delays and changes are the single biggest driver for the rise in food banks in recent years – now we have evidence that people are turning to food banks as a result of delays built into the Tories’ flawed social security reforms.

Only an uncaring Tory UK Government could design a system which would leave people trying to feed themselves and their family for six weeks on one week’s income – and that’s before we take into account the social security cuts.

The roll-out of Universal Credit has been a shambles from the start, beset with maladministration, delays and budget over-runs. The SNP has long made the case for a halt to the roll-out of Universal Credit but Tory Ministers have refused to listen.

The UK Government must get a grip of its troubled Universal Credit project and remove rules which are driving families into poverty – or we will see yet more families in West Dunbartonshire and across the whole UK pushed into crippling debt and forced to rely on food banks just to survive.”

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