NORTH Ayrshire Council has forked out over £300,000 mitigating Universal Credit since it was rolled out.

Freedom of Information Requests revealed that Scottish local authorities have spent over £24million helping those on the new benefit, which has been widely derided.

Patricia Gibson, SNP MP for North Ayrshire and Arran, has renewed her calls for Universal Credit to be halted. UC has been beset by problems and thousands of children face hardship as their parents must wait over five weeks for their first benefit payment.

Mrs Gibson spoke out and said: “UC is a broken system, leaving people destitute, driving families into poverty and forcing many in North Ayrshire to rely on foodbanks.

“NAC has been left to pick up the pieces, having had to shell out £323,000.

“Money is being diverted away from key public services to mitigate the damage caused by this appalling change imposed by the UK Government.

“The solution is to halt the rollout of UC or better still, give all welfare powers to the Scottish Parliament.”

North Ayrshire Council Leader Joe Cullinane said: “It is absolutely clear that Universal Credit is creating a level of human suffering not seen in this country for decades.

“Families, including many vulnerable people, are being pushed into debt and forced to use foodbanks. Universal Credit is a cause of poverty and increased anxiety amongst those who have to claim it.

“Whilst the Tories have deliberately designed a system that creates this hardship we are trying to support our residents in any way we can, despite central government austerity putting real financial pressure on the council’s budget.”