Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey today called Universal Credit “world leading” and a “great example of British innovation” despite it being heavily criticised by a National Audit Office (NAO) report on Friday.
There were cries of shame in the House of Commons today as Esther McVey made a statement to Parliament in which she completely dismissed the critical report from the National Audit Office (NAO) and claimed it was; ‘out of date.’
The spending watchdog found that the roll-out was taking longer than planned, costing too much and may never achieve savings.
The NAO also said it has caused hardship for many people, and the government did not show “sufficient sensitivity” to vulnerable claimants.
Such shameless quotes from McVey included:
“This is a unique example of great British innovation.
“And we are leading the world in developing this kind of person-centred system.”
When continually challenged she would simply hit back with “has the Honorable Member read the report?” I find this odd as it seems that she herself must have read an alternate report herself.
On four occasions she made the claim that: “The report states we should speed up the roll-out not halt it”
This is an outright LIE. The report recommends that the DWP ‘halt the roll-out immediately until they fix the many errors Universal Credit currently has.’ Yet she, and Tory back benchers continually stated this incorrect fact.
IDS blames the messenger
Former Work and Pension’s Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith called the NAO report “a shoddy piece of work.” It seems that unless it’s all good, it’s all wrong in Toryland. Nothing is ever 100% perfect and things can always be improved so, Esther McVey’s stance that it’s going well, is illogical and fanciful at best.
Birkenhead MP Frank Field – who continually campaigns against the government’s benefit reforms said:
“Rather than that banal offering which did nothing for our poorest constituents, a more realistic statement from the Secretary of State would have acknowledged and sought to rectify the following points: Universal Credit is helping to transform the welfare state from one which protects people from poverty, to one that drives them into destitution.
“Vulnerable people face all sorts of difficulties in trying to make and manage a claim online; mega sums of money are being clawed back from people’s monthly payments to cover historic debts, leaving them short of money for food, rent and utilities.”
The shadow work and pensions secretary Margaret Greenwood replied to McVey’s statement by saying “It is failing to achieve its aims, and as it stands there is no evidence it ever will. The report suggests that universal credit may cost more to administer than the benefit system it replaced and concludes it has not delivered value for money.”
Yet Ms McVey told Labour today to stop “scaremongering” and said the benefit was a success, declaring: “How much evidence do you need for heaven’s sake?”
Conservatives living in dreamland
The Tory’s were ready to lavish praise on the failing benefit with claims such as it’s transforming lives.
As I sat live tweeting what was being said, I really did wonder had the party leadership locked them all in a room over the weekend with a fake NAO report. You couldn’t believe they were talking about the same Universal Credit everyone else was.
As I wrote before, BBC reporter Michael Buchanan described talking to the DWP about Universal Credit “is like talking to some sort of flat earther movement.” This could not be more apt. It was sheer denial and, just accuse everyone else of scaremongering.
What will break the camels back?
Despite the performance by Esther McVey they can’t keep this up forever. In just once month there have been three damning reports on Universal Credit. Now the Work and Pensions Committee is looking into domestic abuse victims and Universal Credit. This will truly expose it’s failings. Imagine requiring proof of abuse before you’ll help, or limiting that help to once a year. It’s disgusting behaviour and once it becomes more widely known it will cause even more uproar.
With so much attention being shone on Universal Credit change is inevitable. But how many people will it be too late for by then?
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