The leader of the Scottish Labour party has said Universal Credit is “so discredited” the controversial new benefit system is now beyond reform.

Richard Leonard MSP made the comments during a community listening event to local groups which had come together to discuss the impact of austerity in the city.

Speaking to the press after the event in Barmulloch, north-east Glasgow, Mr Leonard said: “We are fast reaching the point where Universal Credit is so discredited, that it really is beyond reform and that it needs to be scrapped.

“We’ve not had the (Labour) party finally land on that conclusion, but more and more, from events like this and hearing from constituents, it’s clear to me that Universal Credit has got to go.”

He added: “Austerity is sometimes put out as an abstract concept but it’s affecting people’s real lives.

“One of the consequences of austerity is child poverty. It’s all very well to talk about the changes to the support for children in need in 2022.

“What about kids that are being born today, what about kids that are two today, that are five today? They are never going to get that chance again.

“We think there is a need for a greater urgency and less complacency, and events like today just spur us on and drive us on to understand just how urgent and ­desperate (it is), and how we need to change things fundamentally.”

He was joined at the event by local Labour MSP Paul Sweeney, who also said the concept of Universal Credit had been ruined by its execution.

“One of the most challenging things I’ve been dealing with as a member of parliament is a decade of austerity and cuts to the capacity of public services.

“The purpose of today is not for me lecturing you, but it’s absorbing your viewpoints so we can help you,” Mr Sweeney said.

Reverend Rhona Graham, minister at the Tron St Mary’s Church, discussed the issue of uniform credit vouchers within her community with Mr Leonard.

She said sometimes the ­vouchers, which are given to disadvantaged families to purchase school uniforms, are given as cash and can be misused.

“We are also getting a lot more folk coming in and asking for food bank vouchers,” she said.

Reverend Linda Pollock, minister of Possilpark Parish Church, added: “We’ve had people selling the food vouchers too, for cash.”

On the issue of funeral poverty Rev. Pollock said: “People feel they have to do right by their loved ones by spending a lot of money on a funeral.”

She explained in one case a widow was encouraged to spend £3000 to cover her husband’s coffin in photographs.

“It’s not right, there is no dignity in throwing £3000 into the furnace,” she said.

Rev. Pollock also asked Mr Leonard about the process of placing asylum seekers within local communities.

She said: “Why do they put asylum seekers in communities which are already struggling?

“They are housing them in flats which have already been condemned, why is that?

“Why don’t they house them in more affluent communities?

“The more you have, the more you have to lose.”

Mr Leonard said different ­councils put in bids to house asylum seekers and Glasgow City Council “made one of the most generous offers”.

Tom Lamb, a benefits advisor for the cancer charity Maggies, spoke to Mr Sweeney about the impact of Universal Credit on cancer sufferers.

He said: “The concept is not very visible and it’s not dependable. You’re not going to know what you’re going to get at the end of the month.

“The process to start claiming itself takes six weeks. It’s all online and those with terminal cancer have to tick a box to say they have terminal cancer.

“It is so difficult getting Universal Credit, especially for those that are under stress and anxiety.”

Mr Sweeney said: “Universal Credit as a concept is not a bad idea, but it’s been crushed in the execution.”

At the end of the session Mr Leonard thanked the community groups for attending and sharing their stories.

He said: “This is a community that has always been resilient, it’s always had to be resilient.

“We know there are challenges from the very young to the very old. We can bandy around figures of children living in poverty, but it’s the real life stories of people in this room.

“We are not simply talking about reform of Universal Credit, we are talking about complete abolition of it.”