Universal credit the focus of Musselburgh visit by MSPs

28.11.2016

MSPs on the Social Security Committee will today visit Musselburgh job centre, one of the first areas in Scotland to roll out Universal Credit, to see the claimant journey first hand.

Universal Credit replaces six benefits - income support, jobseeker's allowance, employment support allowance, housing benefit, child tax credit and working tax credit - with a single payment.

MSPs on the Social Security Committee are currently investigating the experience of the roll-out of Universal Credit in Scotland. They will speak to job centre staff and those administering the system to find out more about it and where improvements could be made.

Convener of the Social Security Committee Sandra White MSP said:

“The whole purpose of Universal Credit was to simplify the process of claiming for social security by rolling six benefits into the one payment. However we have already heard from a number of witnesses that it has made claiming more complex, put people into debt and that it does not make work pay.

“This is why, as part of our work, we want to visit Musselburgh to speak to job centre staff who are on the front line delivering this benefit.  We want to understand the system and the claimant journey. At a later date we hope to speak informally to local claimants and advice workers to hear about the claimant journey from their point of view.

“Universal Credit is being rolled-out across the UK. We want to ensure, in Scotland, that any lessons are learned from places like Musselburgh as Universal Credit is implemented in other areas.”

The Committee also expects to question witnesses from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) at its meeting on 15 December.

Background

At its meeting on 10 November, the Committee heard from the following witnesses:

  • Rob Gowans, Policy Officer, Citizens Advice Scotland;
  • Archie Campbell, Benefits Representative, Musselburgh Citizens Advice Bureau;
  • Kyna Reeves, Individual Advocacy Worker, CAPS Independent Advocacy;
  • Sheila McKandie, Benefits & Welfare Manager, Highland Council;
  • Andrina Hunter, Service Manager, Health and Social Care Partnership, Inverclyde Council;
  • John Cunningham, Service Manager – Benefits and Financial Assessments, East Lothian Council.

You can read about this session here: www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/report.aspx?r=10621

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