THE UK Government is facing mounting calls to suspend the roll-out of Universal Credit in Scotland until legislation transferring new powers to Holyrood is complete.

Representatives of 40 bodies, including the Church of Scotland, the Scottish Trades Union Council and The Poverty Alliance have signed a letter to UK work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith claiming that proceeding with the new system for welfare payments could lead to chaos once further powers in the area are transferred.

The letter, also signed by 16 housing associations, states: "We know from the Smith Agreement that the bill for further powers that is currently being drafted will include significant new welfare powers. The detail of how these powers will interact with the Universal Credit system will be complex and require careful consideration and planning.

"Any system of welfare has to be safe and secure. Driving through Universal Credit in Scotland at this stage will create unnecessary administrative complication in an already complex process."

It adds: "The sensible way to roll-out Universal Credit in Scotland is to do it once, when the Scotland-specific elements have been carefully planned and incorporated into it. This would avoid wasting precious time and scarce resources, and would protect vulnerable people in our society from bureaucratic change that could wreak havoc."

The letter was made public as the Scottish Parliament's devolution (further powers) committee met yesterday.

In submissions to the committee, a series of groups expressed disappointment with the package of new powers agreed for Scotland by the Smith Commission.

Inclusion Scotland, a consortium of organisations the represents disabled people, said the proposals "fail to address the key concerns and aspirations of disabled people, particularly in relation to powers on welfare and taxation."

It added: "We tend to instead agree with the Joseph Rowntree Foundation that the Smith proposals land someway short of a great leap forward for poverty reduction in Scotland."