Campaigners are warning families in West Dunbartonshire could be left with nothing at Christmas thanks to the rollout of Universal Credit within weeks.

Clair Coyle, a trustee at West Dunbartonshire Community Foodshare, is concerned claimants could be left waiting for five or six weeks before they receive their first payment.

The controversial benefit changes – being introduced on November 28 – will see six payments rolled into one.

However, the move has already caused a number of difficulties in other parts of the country, with critics claiming it has forced people into more debt.

Ms Coyle told the Post: “We are expecting it to be a really busy end to the year.

“The final rollout of Universal Credit at the end of November will include families, so we are very concerned they will be left with a six-week wait with no money over Christmas.

“This could leave families with nothing.

“There are a lot of people coming who have been moved onto it and they have had a period where they have not had money at all.”

Research by the Trussell Trust suggests food bank usage increases by 50 per cent in areas of the UK where Universal Credit has already been introduced.

While Ms Coyle was wary of putting a figure on any increase, she did agree that there would be one.

She continued: “We are hopeful we will be able to deal with the increase when it comes, but it is impossible to say until it actually happens.

“Last year we supported 8,716 people and this year our distribution centres have been a bit busier, so we are expecting numbers to be up.

“We are also very aware of a lot of food poverty amongst people, who wouldn’t come along to a foodbank, so we know there are also a lot of folk we are not reaching.

“Over the past six weeks our stock has been really low. We are just about managing to get the bags out every week for the amount of people we have coming in, but due to an increase in demand our stock is going a lot quicker.”

A DWP spokesman said: “Universal Credit is working for the vast majority who claim it. Work is the best means of providing people with financial security, and with our welfare reforms people are moving into employment faster and staying there longer than under the old system.”