Comment: Minister must halt Universal Credit roll-out to Fife

Work and pensions minister David Gauke.
Work and pensions minister David Gauke.

The Universal Credit roll-out to Fife must be put on hold.

The pre-Christmas launch date is wrong.

It will impact badly on too many Fife families.

That cannot be allowed to happen.

Change is coming, but it must be delayed until the New Year to avoid profound damage to people already facing the toughest of times.

It is unthinkable to put Fifers into Universal Credit at the start of December knowing that their first claim won’t come through for over one month.

To plunge families deeper into debt and despair at this time of year is vindictive.

It is simply the wrong time to roll out a system everyone knows means people instantly plunge deeper into arrears and debt, and all the worry that brings.

It is cruel to implement a structure that will see people face the very real prospect of going without food, without heating and even risk the devastating impact of possible eviction when they can no longer pay their rent.

To willingly, knowingly do that before Christmas is disgusting.

Churches have spoken out on the human cost of the system change.

Trades unions have spoken out.

Frontline agencies such as the Cottage Centre have expressed serious concerns.

And politicians from most political parties have called for a re-think.

That weight of opinion cannot be ignored any longer.

The pre-Christmas launch date MUST be halted.

We know the system is changing, and we know those changes are coming.

But those driving the timetable must pause and consider the impact it will have.

One man can act for the good of many.

David Gauke, Work and Pensions Secretary, must take on board the growing local concerns, and halt the roll out.