FAMILIES across North Ayrshire could face a difficult Christmas because of delays in payment of benefits under the controversial Universal Credit system.

A proposal to call for a halt to the November Universal Credit rollout in North Ayrshire will be made this week.

With an expected six week wait for payment, the November 27 rollout could hit people over the festive period.

Labour councillor Alex Gallagher proposes that the council, community organisations and politicians unite to make a final plea to the UK Government.

He cites the Citizens Advice service warning that many families have been pushed into debt.

The motion states: “With Universal Credit full service due to be rolled out in North Ayrshire on November 27, this council wishes to join third sector organisations and a number of cross party parliamentarians in calling for the UK Government to halt the roll-out process.

“Universal Credit was meant to simplify the UK’s social security system but there is growing evidence from bodies such as Citizens Advice that its implementation has pushed many people and families into debt and poverty as they struggle to make ends meet.

“Evidence from across the initial rollout areas highlight an increase in rent arrears, a near 87 per cent increase in crisis grant applications and a 40- 70 per cent increase in families going to food banks for support.

“This Council is particularly concerned about the impact of the six week waiting time for new claimants to receive payments with rollout in North Ayrshire planned in the run up to Christmas.”

The motion, if approved, would see the council write to the UK Government in order to ‘our voice to the calls for the rollout of Universal Credit to be stopped.

It adds: “In the interim, council notes that officers will continue to raise awareness of the scheduled rollout on November 27 so that local people are prepared for the changes ahead.”