THOUSANDS of families and individuals locally on Universal Credit are having an average of £60 taken from their benefits payments every month.
There are around 7100 Universal Credit claimants in Dumfries and Galloway, many of whom can have their benefits docked by the government to repay debts.
Figures show the number of people hit by deductions in this region is around 3300 – almost half of those receiving the welfare system payout.
With £60 on average being docked, this money is often used to repay upfront loans that struggling claimants were forced to take out as they waited five weeks for their first Universal Credit payment.
Across the UK, the number of deductions rose by 54,200 to 2.3 million in the first quarter of this financial year. In total, £6.8million per month was withheld from their payments.
SNP MP Chris Stephens, who uncovered the figures, is proposing legislation to prohibit the UK Government from imposing deductions in cases where they will result in people being forced to rely on foodbanks.
He said: “The evidence couldn’t be any clearer. Deductions are making poorer people destitute.
“How can this poverty tax be allowed to continue in its current form as part of a welfare state that was originally created to eliminate destitution?”
A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said: “We provide support to help people manage repayments and have reduced the standard cap on deductions twice. Universal Credit deductions are a last resort repayment method and help to recover taxpayers’ money when overpayments are made.
“But we know people are already struggling with the cost of living which is why the UK Government is bearing down on inflation and providing record financial support worth around £3,00 per household, including raising benefits by over ten percent this year.”