A councillor has called on the government to “fix” its controversial Universal Credit scheme and pause the roll out in her borough.

Cllr Kiran Ramchandani, who represents the Queensbury ward, has led a campaign against the new system, which she argues will lead to increased homelessness and families going hungry.

She also noted that many families will be affected over the Christmas, with some not receiving the payments they rely on until after the festive period.

Accompanied by her fellow councillor, Ajay Maru, and Harrow residents Caren Duhig and Nish Patel, Ms Ramchandani handed in a petition to the Edgware branch of Jobcentre Plus.

It reads: “The Tories’ Universal Credit programme means that families receiving Universal Credit for the first time will be left without any benefit payments in the run-up to Christmas.

“Their disastrous roll out is pushing people into poverty, debt and homelessness. And soon millions more will be affected. We’re demanding the Tories urgently pause and fix Universal Credit.”

But the government believes that Universal Credit is streamlining the system and has the potential to “revolutionise welfare” by making work pay.

It replaces six benefits – income-based jobseeker’s allowance, employment and support allowance, income support, working and child tax credit and housing benefit – with one single payment.

Damian Hinds, Minister for Employment, said: “Universal Credit is central to our goal of building a Britain that works for everyone and it is already transforming lives across the country.

“We are simplifying the system, making it more tailored to claimants needs and enabling those who have been out of a job for a while to take on short contracts to build up their skills and confidence for a full time role.”

The Department of Work and Pensions estimates that a £700m boost from Universal Credit will benefit around three million households across the country, including single parents and those on the lowest incomes.

It added that families on Universal Credit who move into work can claim back up to 85 per cent of their childcare costs, significantly boosting their annual finances.

More than 1,200 people in Harrow have been transferred onto Universal Credit but its council recently passed a motion urging the government to pause the roll out.

Ms Ramchandani explained that those who claimed the benefit from November 14 will not receive any payments until after Christmas.

She said: “Universal Credit is a shambles and some of Harrow’s most vulnerable families are paying the price.

“The government must back down and stop the roll out. We can’t let a flailing government run failing experiments on our families - especially not at this time of year.”