'OVER the summer, I have been campaigning to raise awareness of the issues being caused by the accelerated roll-out of Universal Credit.

Universal Credit replaces six existing working age benefits rolling them into one single benefit. It is being gradually introduced in areas across the whole of the UK. However, evidence from the original pilot areas has shown massive problems with Universal Credit in its current form.

Citizens Advice Scotland research has shown that in the pilot areas there has been a 15% rise in rent arrears issues compared to a national decrease of 2%, an 87% increase in Crisis Grant issues compared to a national increase of 9%, and two of five bureaux in impacted areas have seen a 40% and a 70% increase in advice about access to food banks advice, compared to a national increase of 3%. Citizens Advice Scotland have called for a halt to the accelerated roll-out of Universal Credit across the rest of the country, and I support this call.

This call to halt the roll-out is also supported by much of the Third Sector, the churches, the trade unions and many other organisations.

Given these problems and the devastating impact it is having on thousands of men, women and children, you would think the Tory Government would pause, reflect and address the causes that are leading to thousands of people being put at risk of rent arrears, increased debt, poverty and a reliance on charity to feed themselves

I wrote to every MP in the country asking for them to support the call to halt the roll-out of Universal Credit and I raised a motion in the Scottish Parliament so that it could be debated.

I also specifically wrote to the Tory leader in Scotland, Ruth Davidson, asking that she and the Scottish Tories get behind the campaign and use whatever influence they have to halt the roll-out. I have made the point time and again, why would any government continue to roll-out a policy that they know is going to inflict human misery, despair and poverty on thousands of its citizens? Sadly, I never heard back from her.

I am pleased to see that all parties are united on the call to halt the roll-out, except the Tories. They are the only party that are continually denying the problems staring them in the face.

How many more reports do the Tories need to see before they realise that they cannot just ignore it? Or is this a Government willing to drive its people into poverty?'