REFORMS to Universal Credit will be a top priority for Ross Stalker, should he become Paisley and Renfrewshire North’s next MP.

The Liberal Democrat candidate, who is a recipient of Universal Credit, said change is needed to prevent people missing out on money they are entitled to – or “falling out of the benefits system” altogether.

Mr Stalker said his experience of claiming the benefit has highlighted some problems he wants to help solve.

“The answer is reform,” he said. “Do away with sanctions completely.

“Even though many sanctions are overturned on appeal, the time that it takes to appeal means living without much, or any, income.

“If the whole point is to give people their basic living needs, how can you sanction them and take that away, even as a punishment?

“I don’t think people should be punished for missing an appointment or applying for a job outside of what they had written in their claimant commitment.

“There are all sorts of silly reasons people have been sanctioned.”

The 31-year-old prospective MP also said the early roll-out of the system in Renfrewshire meant the process was “quite smooth,” compared to other constituencies.

“From what I’ve seen, Renfrewshire is not the worst but the problems with the system haven’t passed us by here,” he added.

“I think there are also more cases of people falling out of the benefit systems entirely and people, for whatever reason, are put off from claiming.”

Mr Stalker warned that people are being left without money, which can lead to a reliance on foodbanks.

He continued: “The transition on to Universal Credit from previous benefits can be very difficult for people. They can be left without benefits for one or two months. For someone for whom that’s their only source of income and no savings, it is disastrous.”

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