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There was much celebration amongst benefit claimants on Thursday when Esther McVey resigned and Work and Pensions Secretary. Her claim that it was over brexit raised eyebrows, this is due to the fact that she knew a damning UN report was due the next day. However, that celebration was short lived when Theresa May appointed disgraced former Home Secretary Amber Rudd as the new head of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
Many people may be glad that Esther McVey is no longer in charge of the UK’s welfare system. Her tenure has been so controversial that some people rate her above Iain Duncan Smith in callousness. She repeatedly lied to parliament about Universal Credit and escaped punishment and showed a complete disregard for the suffering her department was causing.
So when news of Amber Rudd’s appointment as the new Secretary of State for Work and Pensions broke, people were dismayed. Rudd, the MP for Hastings, was forced to resign over the Windrush Scandal only 200 days ago and yet she’s back in a top job.
Is “misleading parliament” a requirement to head the DWP now?
Her excuse for misleading the Home Affairs Select Committee on deportations targets was; she had been let down by the civil service.
Then you have the atrocious treatment of the Windrush Generation. Many people quite rightly note that while Rudd was still partly to blame, she was really taking the fall for her predecessor, the now Prime Minister, Theresa May.
It seems that loyalty has now been rewarded.
Rudd’s Welfare Record
Nearly as soon as she was appointed people were quick to remind us of a certain statement Amber Rudd had made about benefit claimants in her own constituency. Speaking to the Financial Times (FT) in 2013, Rudd who’s a former banker for JP Morgan said;
“You get people who are on benefits, who prefer to be on benefits by the seaside. They’re not moving down here to get a job, they’re moving down here to have easier access to friends and drugs and drink.”
The MP who’s herself a multi millionaire has some cheek to comment on why people move to Hastings considering when asked by the FT why she chose Hastings & Rye to stand as an MP, she replied;
“I wanted to be within two hours of London and I could see we were going to win it.”
Amber Rudd’s voting record on welfare is just as alarming as Esther McVey’s if I’m honest. Since 2010 The website TheyWorkForYou show her welfare voting record is that of any austerity loving, vulnerable targeting, Tory. Below is just a snapshot of voting record.
- Voted 14 times for The Bedroom Tax
- 52 times for a reduction on welfare spending
- 5 times to ensure that benefit levels stay frozen.
- Voted NOT to make an exception for those with a cancer diagnosis or undergoing cancer treatment from the 365 day limit on receiving contribution based Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
- Voted to remove the “limited capability for work” element of Universal Credit.
Under Pressure from the Start
Rudd starts her tenure at the DWP at a time when the department is under fire from all directions. Charities, think tanks and the National Audit Office have already blasted the department over it’s handling of Universal Credit multiple times in the last few months.
Then you have the damning UN report which came out yesterday. Special Rapporteur Professor Philip Alston said that the government are in complete denial over the issues they are causing. He added that poverty is a political choice that could be solved, but that the Tories are choosing not to fix it despite the overwhelming evidence to show they are causing real hardship and destitution.
As the new head of the DWP, I wonder will she address the fact that her own constituency foodbank has seen an 87% increase in use since Universal Credit was rolled out. She never addressed it when she was on the backbenches, so I doubt she will now.
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