The UK government’s new Universal Credit benefit has been rolled out to Rothesay - but a survey has found a significant level of local concern at the impact it will have.
The new benefit replaces six previous sources of welfare payments - Jobseeker’s Allowance, income support, employment and support allowance, working tax credits, child tax credits and housing benefit.
But according to a survey carried out by Bute Advice Centre, almost half of those eligible for Universal Credit locally are “very worried” about the implications of the change.
The survey, completed by 96 of the centre’s clients across Bute and Cowal, found that 48 per cent were “very worried about their ability to manage the impact of Universal Credit being rolled out”.
The new benefit will also be paid monthly instead of weekly - and 42 per cent of those who took part in the centre’s survey said they would find it difficult to budget for a whole month, rather than a week at a time, and were worried that they might need budgeting support to help them with the transition.
Thirty-six per cent also expressed concern that the UK government’s welfare reforms could lead to an increase in rent arrears.
The UK government’s minister for welfare reform, Lord Freud, said: “Universal Credit is a revolution in welfare – a system that, for the first time, supports people both in and out of work and encourages them to increase their earnings. By making work pay for each and every hour, Universal Credit encourages claimants to increase their earnings.
“The vast majority of Universal Credit claimants who are in work are actively looking for ways to increase their hours and income.
“In this way, Universal Credit is delivering on our commitment to move to a higher wage, lower tax, and lower welfare society.”