AMBER Rudd has been called to “reform” Universal Credit as it has “caused so much misery in Scotland”, following the news the Tories’ roll-out has been delayed.

Welcoming the sign that “the penny appears to have finally dropped” for the Tories over the misery caused by their flagship welfare programme, SNP MP Neil Gray said the delay was a chance to overhaul the system completely.

He has consistently led demands at Westminster to halt the roll-out.

He said: “Any pause to the botched roll-out of Universal Credit is welcome but it shouldn’t have taken this long for the Tories to listen to the SNP and the huge number of anti-poverty charities who have condemned the system,” he said. “The roll-out of Universal Credit to areas across Scotland has already seen more people pushed into poverty, debt and destitution – forcing families to rely on food banks and emergency aid just to get by.

“Now that the penny appears to have finally dropped, the Tories must take this opportunity to overhaul the system and fix the problems that have caused so much misery in Scotland and across the UK.”

The House of Commons was due to vote on proposals to move a further three million claimants onto Universal Credit by summer 2019 but this will now be postponed.

Instead, Work and Pensions Secretary Rudd plans to seek approval to move just 10,000 claimants onto Universal Credit to monitor the way the system works.

Theresa May has defended the Universal Credit overhaul, saying it was always the plan that the scheme would change as it was implemented.

And the Prime Minister said it would still be fully rolled out by the original introduction date of 2023.

A United Nations Special Rapporteur on poverty recently opened a scathing attack on Universal Credit, warning that the entire system was “mean-spirited” and often “callous”.

Powerful committees in both the House of Lords and the House of Commons have also highlighted concerns about the proposal to move three million benefit claimants onto Universal Credit. As a result, the UK Government faced losing a parliamentary vote on the “managed migration” programme.

However, Westminster maintains the decision to delay the roll-out was because it was the “right way” to implement the benefit changes, rather than due to the fact the Government faced a revolt from its own MPs.

The delay comes after Rudd took over from Esther McVey in November at the Department for Work and Pensions and the proposed pilot scheme is expected to be announced this week.

But Gray said it was a chance to reform the hated system.

He said: “The United Nations’ Philip Alston confirmed that poverty is this Tory’s political choice – the head in the sand approach to this criticism is itself a shocking indictment of this government’s attitude. Any movement to mitigate the worst of the problems that the botched roll-out of Universal Credit has caused is welcome, but fundamental reform is urgently needed for those who have already been affected.”

Frank Field, Labour chair of the Commons Work and Pensions Committee agreed that Westminster finally seemed to have come to its senses. “The Government has woken up to the human catastrophe that was waiting to happen under its ill-formed plans for moving people onto Universal Credit,” he said. “As a next step, and in keeping with this new approach, it is essential for the Government to proceed with ‘managed migration’ of people to Universal Credit only once it has been proved to Parliament that it will not push more vulnerable people to the brink of destitution.”

The new credit replaces six existing benefits – Income Support, Housing Benefit, Employment Support Allowance, Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Working Tax Credit and Child Tax credit – with a single payment.