GLASGOW NORTH WEST
Universal Credit has ‘major impact’ on SNP-held city constituency
FROM the banks of the Clyde to the borders of the city, Glasgow North West stretches across diverse neighbourhoods. With Great Western Road running through it, the constituency takes in Drumchapel and Jordanhill, Yoker and Scotstoun, Whiteinch, Broomhill, Anniesland, Netherton and Knightswood.
Like neighbouring Glasgow North, it’s a constituency of contrasts. But one issue regularly rears its head: Universal Credit.
The roll-out of the UK Government’s controversial benefit has had a “major impact” in Drumchapel, where it arrived last December.
Figures from the constituency’s Citizens’ Advice Bureau show it gave advice on 12,789 occasions in 2018/19. Benefits was by far the largest area where residents required help, with 7581 instances, while debt came up nearly 1500 times.
Drumchapel Money Advice Service provides free welfare advice across the North West constituency, running clinics at Whiteinch Community Centre, Yoker Housing Association, Heart of Scotstoun Community Centre and Drumchapel Citizens’ Advice Bureau among others.
An adviser estimated the service is visited by between 30 and 35 people per day, helping them with benefits appeals, filling in forms and making phone calls.
They also help with IT skills, which the adviser said has been a barrier to accessing the benefit for many.
“Benefit delays resulted in 25.8% of referrals, low income 17.6%, benefit changes (including sanctions) 16.1%.”
It is an issue which is going to be high on the agenda for constituents come the general election on December 12.
In comparison, the North West contains more affluent areas like Jordanhill, where Jordanhill School, the only publicly-funded mainstream secondary in Scotland with 23,908 votes from a turnout of 43,854.
It was much tighter in 2017 despite the Labour vote remaining much the same, rising from 13,544 to 13,947 or 30.9% to 35.9%. With a lower turnout and an almost 10% rise in votes for the Tories, the SNP held on to the seat but with a majority of just 2561.
Two years on from that vote, Labour is represented by a new candidate, Patricia Ferguson. She is promising her party will lift people out of poverty, hitting out at the SNP and Tories for years of cuts.
Tory candidate Ade Aibinu believes the election is an opportunity to push back against another independence referendum. He accuses the SNP of wasting time and wants to support teachers, improve bus services and invest in community-based NHS care.
The Liberal Democrats came second in Glasgow North West during its first two elections but candidate James Speirs received the least votes in the 2017 contest.
He’s in the running for the seat again this year and says he will resist Brexit and Scottish independence. He also wants to improve mental health services and the city’s transport system.
The SNP is campaigning on rejecting Westminster austerity and escaping Brexit.
Monaghan blames the Tories for Universal Credit and welfare cuts, saying they have pushed families in the constituency into poverty.
And she says her party is the party of workers’ rights after it an equal pay deal was agreed with Glasgow City Council workers earlier this year.