Former Scottish MP says Universal Credit can 'fire up' recovery as he applies for benefits

A former Labour MP has said social security "is there for everyone" after applying for Universal Credit as a result of the Coronavirus lockdown.

Paul Sweeney lost his Glasgow seat in last year's election
Paul Sweeney lost his Glasgow seat in last year's election

Paul Sweeney became MP for Glasgow North East at the snap election in 2017, but lost his seat in the election last December.

He had been working with Angela Rayner's successful UK Labour Deputy leadership campaign recently, but is now among millions of Britons who have turned to the Universal Credit as the lockdown puts the squeeze on incomes.

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"Social security is there for everyone regardless how prestigious they may think their jobs were," he told BBC News today.

"If they are in a sticky situation then that's the reality for millions of people in the case of UC."

Mr Sweeney says his situation illustrates that many working class Scots, like himself, are reliant on their income to get by.

"Six months ago I was an MP helping people deal with the Department of Work and Pensions and Universal Credit," he added.

"Now I find myself having to apply for it myself. So it's been a fairly kind of bizarre six months to say the least.

"But I think it just shows if you're from a working class or a lower middle class background like mine, you rely on your salary to live. So if you don't have your salary, you're going to find yourself in difficulties."

Mr Sweeney now says that Universal credit should be used to "help the country recover."

He added: "We've got millions of people now signed up to it and as a way of actually putting money in peoples' pockets, it would be a very efficient way for the Government to get money, from quantatitive easing or printing money, and make sure the economy gets fired up and hopefully we manage to get a handle on the transmission rate and are able to ease the lockdown in time.

"Let's hope that's a way of doing it. The future for me, like many people with skills to offer, I hope the labour market will pick up in due course and we'll have many opportunities ahead of us."

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