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SNP MP Martin Docherty-Hughes has criticised UK Chancellor Philip Hammond for not doing enough in his Autumn Budget to tackle problems in the roll-out of Universal Credit.

The MP for West Dunbartonshire has joined SNP colleagues at Westminster in calling for the UK government to take further action to fix the flaws in its flagship welfare policy.

This week the SNP will present a Bill in the House of Commons aimed at making Universal Credit fairer and more flexible, so that families are protected from financial hardship due to the further roll-out of Universal Credit.

The move comes after the Tories were forced to announce reforms to Universal Credit in the Autumn Budget, following damning evidence that claimants have been forced to rely on foodbanks due to difficulties caused by application process.

SNP Health Spokesperson Dr Philippa Whitford MP has brought forward a Bill to tackle the flaws caused by Universal Credit. The Bill has been welcomed by many charities and third sector organisations, including Shelter, Feeding Britain and the Trussell Trust.

Martin Docherty-Hughes MP said:

Whilst the UK Chancellor’s Budget announcement on Universal Credit is welcome acknowledgement of the damage it is causing, it’s clear these reforms don’t go far enough in tackling the flaws built in to the Tories’ flagship welfare policy.

“There is overwhelming evidence of the hardship being caused by Universal Credit, with the Trussell Trust revealing that foodbank use has soared by 30% over the past year in areas where Universal Credit has been introduced.

“West Dunbartonshire is due to transition fully to Universal Credit from June of next year. As with many Local Authorities, there is a serious concern about the impact its further roll-out will have on the poorest and most vulnerable in our communities.

“The Autumn Budget was an opportunity for the UK government to sort out its mess and fully protect families from unnecessary hardship. The Chancellor has failed to do that which is why the SNP will continue pushing for action by the UK government to tackle the flaws in Universal Credit.”

Dr Philippa Whitford MP, SNP Health Spokesperson, said:

“The Tories tinkering in the Budget has made little difference to the utterly callous and damaging roll out of Universal Credit and the UK government seems unaware of the damage and hardship this flawed policy is doing.

“As a doctor of over 30 years, I know that one of the biggest causes of physical and mental ill health is poverty. This has a particular impact on children – it is hard to focus on your homework if you are cold and hungry.

“So – I am presenting a Ten Minute Rule Bill at Westminster aimed at improving the options available for recipients. One of the biggest problems was that people were waiting a minimum of 6 weeks, and often much longer, before receiving their first payment. While the UK Government have shortened this by a week, Universal Credit is meant to mimic a salary so the waiting time should be a maximum of one month.”

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