INSTEAD of providing much needed support, an inflexible interpretation of the rules around Universal Credit is unlawfully penalising some local people.

That is the warning of Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath MP, Neale Hanvey, who challenged the Minister for Welfare Delivery over the “flawed” assessment period of Universal Credit.

Universal Credit claimants have seen their benefit payments fluctuating significantly, depending on their employer’s monthly payment arrangements.

The issue occurs when people receiving the benefit receive two monthly salaries within the Universal Credit assessment period. Even though their pay has not gone up, this can lead to them losing support they are entitled to for a whole payment period, piling even more pressure on their already stretched budgets.

Mr Hanvey’s intervention in the House of Commons followed a Court of Appeal victory for four single mums who were left in financial difficulty due to the DWP’s refusal to change assessment period regulations.

Ruling on the defeat of the UK Government, Lady Justice Rose described the UK Government’s approach as “irrational and unlawful” adding that “no reasonable” Minister would have applied such regulations.

Commenting, Neale Hanvey said: “A lot of constituents are contacting my office as they apply for support for the first time as a result of the economic impact of Covid-19.

“Once they begin to navigate the maze of the UK social-security system, they find that Universal Credit is woefully inadequate, and this view is now effectively endorsed by the Court of Appeal with the UK Government’s embarrassing defeat".

The MP added: “I asked Minister Will Quince a straightforward question: if they couldn’t tell Lady Justice Rose, could he advise the House what was the alleged defence?

“Unfortunately, just like the Court of Appeal, I wasn’t given a non-answer.

“Universal Credit has never been about providing a safety-net or making work pay. Sadly, many Fifers are now finding out how hollow the UK Government’s assurances have turned out to be.”