Universal Credit is not enough to live on and more people are turning to food banks and getting advice on sanctions, according to a new report.

Citizens Advice Scotland has found advice about benefit sanctions has increased by 55% in the last year.

It revealed advice about using foodbanks has gone up by 31% and guidance on fuel banks to help with energy costs has gone up by 23%.

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Citizens Advice Scotland said people relying on Universal Credit are being battered by a “perfect storm” of low income and rising costs.

CAS wants a range of actions to help people on Universal Credit though the cost of living crisis.

They have asked for an immediate uprating of Universal Credit and all legacy benefits  in line with current inflation.

They call for the use of sanctions to be suspended until the cost of living crisis is over.

And they want the benefit cap and the two-child limit scrapped.

The study found that years of below-inflation increases have left the value of Universal Credit trailing far behind the cost of living.

Universal Credit has only been uprated by 3.1% in April 2022.

CAS said this has left people on UC with a huge gap between their incomes and their bills.

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It argues that the only time Universal Credit rates kept pace was during the pandemic when it was increased by £2o a week.

However just as the cost of living crisis began to bite it says the support was withdrawn  and people were plunged back to where they were.

Many claimants are caught in a catch 22 situation where poverty means they can’t fulfil their conditions of  receiving benefits.

The study found: “A perpetually low income can also have knock-on effects on a person’s ability to engage with the work search requirements of UC.

“Because Universal Credit is a digitally delivered benefit, people on UC need internet access to search for work and update their UC journal.

“Yet a YouGov survey commissioned by CAS found that more than 1 in 7 people who run out of money before pay day go without internet access as a result and  1 in 5 go without mobile phone access.”

David Scott, CAS Social Justice spokesperson, said: “Everybody is feeling the squeeze at the moment, with high fuel bills and other inflationary costs, while incomes stagnate.

“But those who rely on support from Universal Credit are amongst the most vulnerable, and that’s why we wanted to focus on them in this report.

“We reported in early 2021 that many people on UC were already cutting back on food, utilities, and other essentials to make ends meet. When the UK Government then cut UC by £20-per-week in October last year, just as energy and food prices began to skyrocket, we warned this would create a perfect storm for these households.

“The research we are publishing today shows just how true that has been. Every CAB in Scotland is reporting to us that they are seeing UC claimants who just can’t make ends meet.”