Midlothian Council leader’s threat to the DWP

Council leader Owen Thompson outside Dalkeith Job Centre
Council leader Owen Thompson outside Dalkeith Job Centre

Council leader Owen Thompson has threatened to refuse to implement Universal Credit due to a lack of information from the UK Government.

Councillor Thompson (SNP) made the threat at last week’s Cabinet meeting, with the controversial new welfare reform due to take affect in Midlothian from April 27.

He is angry at the lack of information the council has received from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), which originally told the local authority that only 12 people would be affected by the new scheme, a figure which has now risen to more than 1,000.

Commenting on that change, Councillor Thompson said: “That’s a major increase. So I would want the council to have absolute confidence in this before we sign up to it.

“If we don’t have more information by then we should refuse to implement Universal Credit.

“Maybe if we say that to them it will force their hand.

“This will have a serious impact on people, that are probably already in a very vulnerable situation.”

Universal Credit is replacing the six main out-of-work benefits and tax credits and is being gradually rolled out across the country.

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said: “By rolling out Universal Credit to almost a third of Scotland’s Jobcentre’s by spring, more people will benefit from a new system that makes work pay.

“Already claimants in Scotland are benefitting from Universal Credit - moving into work faster and staying in work longer.

“We are working closely with Midlothian Council on the final plans for bringing these much needed reforms to local people.”

Read more in this week’s Advertiser, out now.