The new benefit has a five-week waiting time built in which means anyone claiming today will not get support until the New Year.

universal credit system UK
© PA
Families may have to rely on food banks to survive.
Ten thousand Scots will be left penniless at Christmas after being transferred to Universal Credit.

The new benefit has a five-week waiting time built into the system which means anyone claiming today will not get support until the New Year.

Universal Credit, which bundles six old benefits together, is being rolled out across Scotland.

The UK Government claimed it would "simplify" payments and guide people into work.

But Scottish Government Social Security Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said the switch-over will leave thousands of new claimants with no income over the festive period.

Shirley-Anne Somerville  Universal Credit
© Daily Record
Shirley-Anne Somerville has called Universal Credit unacceptable.
And she warned that families will have to rely on food banks to survive.

Somerville added: "Christmas is a time of additional expense for most people but it's particularly hard for families with little money to begin with.

"It is therefore unacceptable that anyone making a claim for Universal Credit from last week will not see their money until after Christmas.

"This is an appalling situation for many across Scotland and why we have repeatedly called for a halt to the roll out of Universal Credit.

"The minimum five-week wait for a first payment is just one of the many problems with Universal Credit, the roll out of which has led to sharp rises in the use of food banks and rent arrears."

The UK's Department for Work and Pensions rejected the claim last night and said advances can be made against future payments.

But Scottish Government officials said an estimated 10,000 people are likely to be in a position to make a claim this month but not to receive any benefits.

The first Scottish council area to switch over to UC was East Lothian in March 2016. In two years, three quarters of tenants on UC in the region were in arrears, owing nearly £1million between them.

Edinburgh was fully covered by the new system last month and Glasgow completed the roll-out this week.

Somerville said she's sure DWP workers try their best to deal with claimants as best they can.

But she added: "A DWP worker can't do anything about the fact you have to wait five weeks at least for your first payment.

"They can't do anything about the fact that if you need any of the money in the run-up to that, it will taken off your benefits. This has nothing to do with the DWP workers - it has everything to do with the system they are trying to implement.

"The system is broken. It simply doesn't deliver for people."

A DWP spokeswoman said: "These claims are simply untrue.

"No one has to wait for support if they need it and 100 per cent advance payments are available from day one.

"We are listening to concerns and recently announced a £4.5billion cash boost to Universal Credit.

"We are delivering flexibilities in Universal Credit payments on behalf of the Scottish Government and Scotland has the power to top-up existing benefits, pay discretionary payments and create entirely new benefits altogether."

Somerville said the SNP Government shouldn't have to "paper over the cracks" of the Tory's cruel system.

She added: "You can't mitigate against £3.7billion of cuts.

"At what point do we concentrate our fire on where the source of the problem is, which is the UK Government?"

UK Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd insisted that UC is "a force for good".

She added: "Everyone in Scotland that visits a job centre from now on will be able to access a better, modern benefit with personalised support.

"Universal Credit is working for the vast majority of people and in Scotland we've seen almost 200,000 more people move into work since 2010.

"However, I will continue to monitor closely and make improvements where needed."

Alan's Story
Alan White Universal Credit
© Daily Record
Alan White is facing a huge cut in his benefits as he moves to Universal Credit.
A mentally ill Scot says he is suicidal after finding out he'll be left with no money over Christmas under the transfer to Universal Credit.

Allan White says he can't bear to see his nieces and nephews on Christmas Day because he won't be able to buy them presents.

The 29-year-old said: "I've thought about ending it all.

"Christmas is totally ruined. I only have £2 left in my gas and electricity meter so will need to stay with my mum in Bathgate at some point and she'll be making the dinner on Christmas Day.

"I have two nieces and three nephews. It sounds terrible but now I don't know if I want to see the wee ones on Christmas Day. I'll just feel so disappointed in myself about not being able to afford presents for them."

Under the previous system, Allan received £925 a month in Employment Support Allowance and Personal Independence Payments. He also got housing benefit to cover his rent.

After the switch to Universal credit, he will lose £440 a month, leaving him with £485. From that, he will have to pay £76 a week rent, meaning he will have just
£45 a week to live on.

Allan added: "I've suffered from borderline personality disorder along with severe anxiety and depression for five years and have been out of work
that whole time.

"I passed medical tests with flying colours for all the benefits I received under Employment Support Allowance."

To compound his problems, Allan was too ill to attend appointments with the Department for Work to discuss the benefits changeover.

As a result, he won't receive anything in the first round of payments next week and he'll have to wait another month for his weekly £45.

Allan from Bo'ness, West Lothian, started his application for Univeral Credit a couple of weeks ago.

Yesterday, he received a phone call saying his benefits were being slashed.

He said: "That phone call made me so upset and angry.

"I was told, 'There's nothing we can do. You'll just have to manage.'"