A DOZEN organisations have joined Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath MP Lesley Laird in inviting Amber Rudd to visit Fife to hear the impact of Universal Credit.

The MP's letter to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions said the flagship policy was “so flawed and broken what is really needed is fundamental change.”

It followed a meeting in April in which organisations reported a huge increase in demand on services from people in the constituency and other parts of the county going weeks without money due to being sanctioned or waiting for a first Universal Credit (UC) payment.

Lesley commented: “Amber Rudd previously said she wanted the Universal Credit system reformed with greater flexibility so that the system works for everyone, but in practice the system is so flawed and broken what is really needed is fundamental change.

“Front-line organisations here in Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath know Universal Credit’s impact full well – they battle its consequences day-after-day – and I would urge Ms Rudd to come to Fife and listen to what they have to say.”

The letter was co-signed by the following organisations: Citizens Advice Rights Fife, Fife Employment Action Trust, Fife Trade Unions Council, Fife Voluntary Action, Home-Start Cowdenbeath, Home-Start Kirkcaldy, Kirkcaldy Foodbank, Kirkcaldy YMCA, Link Living, Linton Lane Centre, People’s Assembly Fife and the Cottage Family Centre.

It states that the black-market economy, addiction and prostitution in the Kirkcaldy area has increased with the rollout of UC. The letter lists other consequences: a 65 per cent increase in demand for food support in the last year. Over two thirds using the food bank have UC claims.

The DWP’s computer system seems unable to process rent payments to landlords, resulting in rent arrears triggering automatic deductions. In some cases, charities report that a single person is left with just £200 a month to live on.

Lesley Laird said: “This system doesn’t work – full stop – and it’s a fool’s game to pretend otherwise.

“Universal Credit creates misery for all vulnerable people, young to old. Universal Credit is placing unsustainable strain on the third sector and it is fundamentally damaging our communities.

“The savings which come from pinching a few pennies now will cost our society dear in the long-term. If Ms Rudd does take up our invite, and I sincerely hope she does, she’ll see that for herself first-hand.”

Ms Rudd has said previously that she was aware of many of the shortcomings of the introduction of Universal Credit mechanism and was working hard to try to find ways of sorting these out although she had also said that the system was about ensuring that the right money went to the right people.