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Richard Leonard calls for universal credit to be ‘terminated’

RICHARD LEONARD has called for politicians from Scotland’s parties to come together and call for the scrapping of universal credit.

Scottish Labour leader Mr Leonard led a debate today on the benefit, which he says has caused significant hardship for people across Scotland.

Mr Leonard called for his colleagues in Holyrood to scrap the benefit and its associated rape clause.

He said: “It is a system which has delivered so much misery, so much hardship — even destitution — to so many people across the UK.

“So much so that it has been described as a digital and sanitised version of the 19th-century workhouse.

“I hope that this afternoon this Parliament will seize the opportunity to unite and call for its immediate termination.”

A motion from his party calling for the immediate termination of the benefit system was welcomed by representatives in other parties, with the SNP and Scottish Greens saying they would back it in a later vote.

But SNP MSPs instead called for further powers to be devolved to the Scottish Parliament in an attempt to solve the associated issues with universal credit.

Despite the widespread criticism within the chamber, Tory MSPs continued to back universal credit.

Scottish Conservative MSP Michelle Ballantyne said the system “had its issues” but remained the best way forward.

An amendment in her name claimed the British government “has been positively reforming universal credit to further support claimants.”

But Alison Johnstone of the Scottish Greens said many citizens across the country continue to experience “untold misery” because of the system.

The Lothians MSP highlighted the example of a constituent who was made homeless because of shortfalls in universal credit income, forcing her to stay with her children in hostels and temporary accommodation.

Last week Mr Leonard, as well as Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, backed a grassroots campaign to block any evictions relating to universal-credit arrears.

The push, headed by tenants’ union Living Rent, would help defend more than 1.5million people who are currently on single social security system.

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