LEIGH'S MP has warned the Government that Universal Credit is 'leading to a cycle of debt, poverty and desperation' and urged Parliament to halt the controversial new benefit system being rolled out across the country.

Jo Platt told the House of Commons that a large number of her constituents have been forced to turn to loan sharks and payday lenders due to delays in getting payments and processing issues since Universal Credit was introduced in Leigh in 2013.

The monthly payment to help people who are on a low income or out of work with their living costs replaces Child Tax Credit, Housing Benefit, Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA), income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Working Tax Credit and is being introduced across the UK in stages.

Addressing fellow MPs on Wednesday, Miss Platt said: “Through my work with our local credit union I have seen first-hand how Universal Credit is leading to a cycle of debt, poverty and desperation.

“Late and incorrect payments are driving people into the hands of loan sharks and payday lenders, who are praying on people at their most vulnerable.

“The Government is well aware of the situation but has ploughed on despite the evidence of growing debt and rent arrears among claimants.

“I want to see the Government commit to a full debate and vote on this issue before more families and individuals are driven further into poverty.”

She claims 80 per cent of her 1,800 constituents who are claiming Universal Credit are now facing rent arrears.

Whether you can claim Universal Credit depends on where you live and your circumstances.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) instigates people moving over to Universal Credit by getting in touch with them.