UNIVERSAL CREDIT has been branded "offensive on every level" as Wee County councillors debated the ongoing impact it has had in the area.

A motion was tabled by Labour leader Councillor Dave Clark on Thursday, December 20, simply asking elected members to acknowledge that the policy has done "harm to families in Clackmannanshire".

It was backed by the SNP administration at Kilncraigs, but was opposed by Conservative councillors.

Labour's Cllr Kenny Earle told Tory colleagues the move was "not a personal attack" before pointing to five-week waits and increased rent arrears as proof the benefits policy is not working.

Cllr Clark, who was looking for a "apology" from the Conservatives, implied Universal Credit was an attack on the poor before reading an excerpt from Charles Dickens' classic A Christmas Carol.

In the past, he had made references to the Scrooge living in Alloa.

He also pointed to an increase in Scottish Welfare Fund applications and increased foodbank use, before slamming Clackmannanshire's Conservative MP Luke Graham for organising photocalls outside said charities – something he branded "sheer hypocrisy".

Council leader Cllr Ellen Forson was happy to support the motion, highlighting the Scottish Government spends £125million a year to mitigate the impact of the welfare policy.

She told the chamber she had "never met" a person who said the support works for them.

Her colleague Cllr Graham Lindsay was one among others to highlight there was cross-party support behind the original vision for Universal Credit as something that would simplify the system and make it easier to claim.

However, he said the problem was that it's not working, before adding: "Let's get it fixed or people need us to take action on this."

The SNP's Cllr Craig Holden was more heavy-handed, though, saying that "no one else believes" the objective was to make benefits simple, rather the policy was to "save money" at Westminster.

He added that an increase in the number of food parcels being given out locally was a "direct result" of the Universal Credit policy, which was "offensive on every level".

Conservative leader Cllr Bill Mason remained diplomatic, saying his group was committed to work with all parties for the benefit of Clackmannanshire – with the tools available at local government level.