Scottish Government Issues Universal Credit Guidance

The Scottish Government has issued new guidance in an attempt to help recipients of Universal Credit in Scotland to more easily manage their money.

The guidance is aimed at both landlords and claimants in a bid to make Universal Credit more manageable for those affected by it. Recipients of Universal Credit in Scotland will be offered two new ways to manage their benefits. There is hope that the move will reassure landlords that renting to tenants on housing benefit is not a high risk endeavour.

From this week onwards, people in Scotland making new claims in full service Universal Credit areas will be able to change the frequency of their payments from once monthly, two twice. There is also the option to have the housing cost element of Universal Credit made payable directly to their landlord.

The Scottish Government has issued an informative leaflet for Universal Credit claimants, as well as a detailed external brief outlining the Scottish flexibilities for welfare reform.

Minister for social security, Jeane Freeman, spoke out on a visit to Musselburgh CAB: ‘This week I have again called on the UK government to halt the roll-out of Universal Credit.  It is an ill-designed, flawed system that all the evidence shows is causing hardship to people across the country. Universal Credit is failing the people it is designed to support, driving more people into poverty. The 6 week wait, which can often be longer and deliberately built into the system, is unjustifiable – pushing people into crisis and rent arrears, and having to rely on food banks and emergency payments to get by.’

She continued: ‘We have no powers to deal with the worst aspects of Universal Credit, including delayed payments, cuts to the work allowances, and the appalling ‘rape clause’ applied to the tax credits within Universal Credit. But where we do have powers, we act to improve where we can this flawed UK benefit. We are using those powers. From (October 4), people making new claims in full service Universal Credit areas will be offered the choice of changing the frequency of their payments from once to twice monthly and to have the housing cost element of their Universal Credit paid directly to their landlord – social or private. This can help people manage their money in the way that best suits them.’

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