CHURCH leaders in Glasgow have told the UK Government that Universal Credit is causing hardship and distress and its continued roll-out must be halted.

Glasgow is in line for a full roll out of the multi – benefit single payment system in September next year with many people including new claimants already under the controversial system.

The Church of Scotland Presbytery of Glasgow has written to Damian Hinds the Work and Pensions Secretary, calling for radical rethink.

It warned of rent arrears and homelessness.

Delays in payments and cuts in allowances leading to increased food bank use.

In the letter Rev George Cowie, Presbytery clerk, said: “The Presbytery is deeply concerned about the level of distress and serious hardship which the roll out of Universal Credit, in its present form, has introduced to the lives of many of the most vulnerable people in society.”

It said that while the DWP officials and staff familiarise themselves with the new rules and procedures the living conditions of people in receipt of benefits is being damaged. The church said this should not be ignored.

There is still a built in five week delay to the first payment but often the wait is longer with two months not an uncommon occurrence.

On Housing Benefit being included in Universal Credit the church said: “It is difficult to see how people can avoid accumulating arrears in their housing payments.

“Surely it was never the intention of Universal Credit to contribute to a process which could lead to possible eviction and consequent homelessness.”

The church said the Government should recognise the damage and reverse its position

It concluded: “There is no place for blind adherence to political dogma when such a course of action can only result in additional difficulty for those who are already in the most vulnerable of positions.”

The Church also criticised the decision to close six Jobcentres in Glasgow and the increasing reliance on computers to administer the benefits system when so many have no access or skill required to use computers.

It said that the closure of Jobcentres had added to the difficulties faced by some who are left with a journey they are unable to manage to reach an appointment at t Jobcentre.