THERESA May will be urged today to tackle the “utterly callous” roll-out of Universal Credit as the SNP ups the pressure on the Prime Minister to fix the flaws in the controversial policy.

Philippa Whitford, the party’s health spokeswoman, will present a 10-minute Rule Bill this afternoon to highlight concerns while her Nationalist colleague Drew Hendry, whose Highland constituency was the pilot area in 2013 for the welfare changes, will hold an end of day debate on Wednesday about the impact the changes are having on the terminally ill.

The Government has defended Universal Credit, which amalgamates six benefits into one, as enabling more people to get back into work.

The Budget contained a series of measures to help the jobless, including increased loans and rent payments for claimants waiting to get the new benefits package. David Gauke, the Work and Pensions Secretary, insisted the new system was working and was about “transforming lives”.

But critics insist Universal Credit, which is gradually being introduced across the UK, is penalising some of the most vulnerable in society.

Organisations, including Citizens Advice, have called for the roll-out to be suspended. Among the criticisms is that claimants are having to wait to receive their first payments, forcing some people into arrears with their rent.

Dr Whitford said: “The Tories tinkering in the Budget has made little difference to the utterly callous and damaging roll-out of Universal Credit and the UK Government seems unaware of the damage and hardship this flawed policy is doing.

“As a doctor of over 30 years, I know that one of the biggest causes of physical and mental ill health is poverty. This has a particular impact on children; it is hard to focus on your homework if you are cold and hungry.”

The Central Ayrshire MP said her 10-Minute Rule Bill – a parliamentary device to highlight an issue – was aimed at improving the options available for recipients.

She noted how the Government move to reduce the waiting time for a person’s first Universal Credit payment from six weeks to five should go further; given the welfare payment was due to mimic a salary, she suggested, the waiting time should be reduced to a maximum of four weeks.

“My Bill would also seek to provide flexible options, to help stop people falling into debt and rent arrears. The Government should change the practice of only paying into a single bank account. It’s bizarre to return to the Victorian image of the ‘head of the household’. This can isolate women living in a controlling relationship by leaving them no money of their own.

“No one should have to choose between poverty and abuse. Through this Bill I call on the Government to tackle the flaws in Universal Credit before it forces even more women and children into poverty,” declared Dr Whitford.

Mr Hendry said that four years of organisations calling for changes have “fallen on deaf ears”.

Denouncing Universal Credit as a “shambles,” he added: “My debate will focus on the cruellest of conditions, those with terminal illness, many of whom die before the claims are paid and who - as a heartless new requirement - have to ‘self-certify’ that they only have months to live, even if they didn’t wish the doctors to tell them of the nature of their fate.”