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.

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