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Highland Council leader Margaret Davidson supports call for universal credit 'starter payment'

By Hector MacKenzie

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CALLS for a starter payment for people claiming universal credit (UC) have been backed by Highland Council's leader.

Margaret Davidson made her remarks as the Work and Pensions Committee recommended a starter payment to ensure that everyone has enough money for basics such as food and heating during the wait for their initial monthly payment.

Cllr Margaret Davidson said: “Highland has been hit hard by the many shortfalls arising from the UK Government’s benefit scheme.

“The five-week wait for the first payment is driving many of our residents into debt and putting strain on the relationships between landlords and their tenants. I very much welcome the Work and Pensions Committee’s findings and indeed have been lobbying the UK Government for some years on a number of these issues.”

The Work and Pensions Committee is also calling on the Government to make permanent the £20 per week increase in the standard UC allowance announced in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Cllr Davidson added: “Many of our tenants have been struggling over recent months as a result of the ongoing pandemic. We are here to offer help and support. For those claiming benefits, particularly those who are having to make a benefit claim for the first time, the UC system can be complex, but our staff are trained to help tenants with a wide range of tailored advice and support.

“Our Welfare Support Team have done a tremendous job supporting many tenants to claim Universal Credit and to ensure their payments continue."

The team can be contacted on 0800 090 1004.

Related: MP calls for UC loans to be converted into grants

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