Calls to halt Universal Credit roll out to Banbridge

John O'Dowd.
John O'Dowd.

A local MLA has called for a halt to the new Universal Credit system, which is due to be rolled out in Banbridge this week.

John O’Dowd said the introduction of the new benefits system to Banbridge, planned for June 27, should be stopped following a ‘damning’ report from the Audit Office, before “more people are pushed into poverty”.

The Upper Bann MLA was commenting after an Audit Office report warned that the Universal Credit system is causing hardship, has been too slow to roll out and could end up costing more to administer than the benefits system it is replacing.

“This is a damning report, however, it is not unexpected given that we have been raising these and a number of other concerns for some time now,” Mr O’Dowd said.

The Sinn Fein MLA added: “While the mitigation measures introduced by the previous Executive have gone some way to alleviating some of the worst aspects of Universal Credit, it remains clear that this system is not fit for purpose.”

Mr O’Dowd said the new Universal Credits system is a “a policy that is riddled with faults, complications and delays”.

“It must not be rolled out in Banbridge and must be stopped in other areas of Upper Bann,” Mr O’Dowd said.

He added: “The very fact that Universal Credit continues to roll out despite the IT system not being fully built is also shocking and we are again calling for it to be halted before more people are pushed into poverty.”