Calls have been made for the Government to pause the roll-out of Universal Credit before people are “pushed” into the “cold grip of destitution.”

Universal Credit is in the process of replacing a number of benefits including Child Tax Credits, Housing Benefit and Job Seekers Allowance (JSA).

But a report published last week by the Trussell Trust said the transitions to the new Universal Credit system that have already begun are accounting for more food bank referrals.

Now London Assembly member for Enfield and Haringey, Joanne McCartney, is calling on the Government to pause the roll-out of Universal Credit to protect people in Tottenham and Wood Green.

This month new claimants using Tottenham and Wood Green Jobcentres will be moved onto the new Universal Credit system.

Ms McCartney said: “The evidence is stacking up that the Government’s punitive welfare changes are pushing more and more Londoners into the cold grip of destitution.

“This report is the latest in a growing abundance of proof that Universal Credit will force some families to choose between feeding their children and keeping a roof over their heads. That’s a cruel position to put people in.

“With the Prime Minister finally pledging an end to austerity, pausing the roll out of Universal Credit would be an indication she is serious about actually delivering on that promise.”

More than 135,000 Londoners are currently claiming Universal Credit.

But it is expected that funding cuts to Universal Credit will see a £250million a year decrease for claimants in the capital by 2020.

Liberal Democrat London Assembly member Caroline Pidgeon also backed calls for the roll-out of Universal Credit to be paused.

Ms Pidgeon said: “Although Universal Credit in principle is not a bad idea, its implementation over the last three years has been a total shambles by the Conservative Government.

“Above all else, before it is further rolled out, we need to ensure that it actually delivers what it promises on the tin – that of ensuring taking up work actually makes real sense for individuals who are currently out of work.”

The Greater London Authority (GLA) Conservative group has refused to comment.