The DWP has given £80m in emergency loans to Scottish benefit seekers left penniless while waiting for Universal Credit

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The Department for Work and Pensions has provided £80million in emergency loans to Scottish benefit claimants left penniless while waiting for Universal Credit.

Labor say the huge figure proves the ‘chaotic’ new system leaves people to choose between ‘paying the rent, heating their homes or eating’. He called on Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd to end the scheme.

The statistics were obtained through freedom of information laws and reveal that the number of advances – including multiple payments to the same recipients – exceeded 200,000 north of the border.

Mark Griffin MSP, Labor Social Security spokesman, said: “It is unbelievable that £80million has had to be paid in loan advances since Universal Credit was rolled out in full service.

“More and more people are being pushed into hardship – and the system is clearly set up in a way that means it’s not helping those who need it. People on Universal Credit should not be forced to claim deposits that must be repaid.

“Across the country, tens of thousands of people are suffering from Universal Credit misery – forced to choose between paying rent, heating their homes or eating. Conservatives must put an end to this chaotic system and take immediate action to ensuring that those who need it most get the help they need.

Universal Credit was fully introduced last year and in May there were 184,537 Scots on it.

It was created to simplify the system and consolidates six Social Security payments into one. But it has been plagued with stories of heists and many claimants insist they are worse off.

Advance loan figures provided by the DWP show that there were 183,120 “new claim and benefit transfer advances” made in Scotland, and a further 34,060 “budget advances”.

The average amount distributed was around £370 for each loan. Advances have been introduced to prevent people from falling into difficulty during the five weeks of waiting for their first payment.

These are interest-free loans, but the money should be repaid.

A DWP spokesperson said: “Universal Credit is a force for good, and over two million people are now receiving support. With Universal Credit, people receive financial assistance if they are unemployed, in low-paying jobs, or unable to work.

“People can receive their first payment on the first day of their claim as an advance and we continue to make improvements – over the past year the number of people paid in full and on time has increased to 95% .”

There were reports last week that Universal Credit applicants are barred from challenging decisions they disagree with.

Alison Garnham, from the Child Poverty Action Group, said: “Failure to ensure that Universal Credit operates in a way that meets basic legal obligations is a matter of grave concern.

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