THE UK Government has been forced to hand out nearly 18,000 emergency payments to struggling people in Glasgow to avoid them falling into hardship after the introduction of Universal Credit.

Advances on benefits paid by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) to those in Glasgow total more than £6.5million since the rollout of Universal Credit across the city.

The system replaces six benefits with a single monthly payment, but it takes five weeks to get the first payment – leaving many families facing huge financial difficulties.

Glasgow’s eight JobCentres, which began using Universal Credit between September and December last year, saw £6.62m given in emergency loans up to the end of April this year.

Glasgow Times:

In Shettleston, where Universal Credit only came into place in December, more than 3,800 people have already sought help to the tune of more than £1.5m.

Other centres, Springburn and Newlands, have also seen high number of those seeking help.

Around 2,700 people attending the Newlands site were given just under £1m in help before April 30, 2019, while in the north east of the city around 4,000 needed loans totalling £1.45m.

READ MORE: Universal Credit hardship warning from Government minister

Advances totalling £910,000 and £810,000 were given to those on Universal Credit in Partick and Govan respectively.

The remaining centres, Castlemilk, Drumchapel and Laurieston, saw their claimants seek a total of £1m.

Politicians have warned these latest figures show Universal Credit is failing those it intended to help.

Glasgow MSP Anas Sarwar said: “It’s alarming that over £6million has had to be paid out in advance loan payments to people in Glasgow since Universal Credit was rolled out into full service.

Glasgow Times:

“Far too many people are being pushed into hardship – and the system is clearly set up in a way that means it is not helping those who need it.

“Those on Universal Credit shouldn’t be forced into claiming emergency loans simply so they can pay their rent, heat their home or provide food for their family.

“Prime Minister Boris Johnson should take the opportunity to halt this shambolic system and ensure those who need it most receive the assistance they need.”

READ MORE: Glasgow's 'Daniel Blake' tells of struggle after life fell apart

At the beginning of the city's rollout last year, Social Security Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville warned Universal Credit will lead to poverty and hardship for thousands of people in Glasgow.

Just months later, tens of thousands of hardship payments have already been sought.

Glasgow's eight JobCentres make up just under 10 per cent of all advance payments made across Scotland since the Universal Credit roll out.

During the same period, there was a total of around 5,230 total advances in Edinburgh, with total expenditure of around £1.9 million.

Glasgow Times:

This is despite the city sites being amongst the last to transition to the new system, some more than a year after other areas of the country.

In total, about £68million in advance payments have been received by people in Scotland waiting for Universal Credit to be delivered.

An estimated 183,120 total advances were made since the service began to roll out in local authority areas in 2016 and April 30 this year - at an average advance value of £372.

Across Scotland, there was a total of 197,289 claiming the benefit in June 2019.

READ MORE: Call to stop pilot scheme over Universal Credit to assess impact

The Social Security Secretary said the system was fundamentally flawed.

Ms Somerville said: "There is a mountain of evidence that Universal Credit is pushing people into hardship, rent arrears and poverty.

"UK Government welfare cuts have increased the risk of deprivation for low-income families across Scotland and we are set to invest more than £125 million in 2019-20 to mitigate the damaging impact of welfare cuts for people and protect people on low incomes.

Glasgow Times:

"We continue to call on the UK Government to fix the fundamental flaws within Universal Credit.

"Since the start of 2019, each month an average of 9,000 people in Scotland have been transferred by the DWP to a broken Universal Credit system that is not fit for purpose - and this must stop.

"We've used the very limited powers we have over Universal Credit to give people more choice - to pay housing costs directly to landlords and to change the frequency of payments.

READ MORE: DWP accused of inadequacies over Universal Credit claims

"We are also working towards getting agreement from the DWP to introduce split payments to give everyone access to an independent income."

Despite these figures, the DWP claim the new system is “a force for good”.

A spokesperson said: "Universal Credit is a force for good and more than two million people are now receiving support. People get financial help if they’re unemployed, in low-paid employment or unable to work.

“People can get their first payment on day one of their claim as an advance and we continue to make improvements - in the past year the number of people being paid in full and on time has risen to 95 per cent.”