Many of you will have seen in both the local and national media that we sadly lost a fellow Flintshire resident because of an error by the Department of Work and Pensions.
Mrs Joy Worrall’s inquest took place recently and it became apparent that she had taken her own life because of the poverty forced upon her by the UK Government. Her State Pension and Winter Fuel Payments had been stopped due to a ‘clerical error’, which resulted in the desperately sad situation we now find ourselves in.
I have been supporting the family and my thoughts go out to them in what must be an extraordinarily difficult time. I am determined to do much more than just send my condolences. That is why I have secured meetings with the Minister responsible and called for an urgent inquiry – led by the Secretary of State – to ensure that no one ever loses their life because of poverty.
I welcome the commitments made in response to my question, but much more can and should be done to ensure this catastrophe never happens again.
The economic growth figures out today demonstrated that growth slowed in the last three months to just 0.2%. Delving deeper into those figures we could see that construction shrunk by -0.3% and manufacturing -1.1%.
I pointed out to the Secretary of State that unemployment in Delyn has increased by 33% in the past 12 months and a no deal Brexit would turbo-charge that to levels unseen before.
The Secretary of State provided no answers as to what the Government was doing to support Delyn and North East Wales. She said she would be happy to hear my ideas. However, the Secretary of State ignored the fact that North Wales Labour MPs have been calling for funding for the North Wales Growth Deal, support for the Wylfa power plant, investment into the Colwyn Bay tidal lagoon and improvements in connectivity between North Wales and North West England. Each time the Government has decided to shrug its shoulders and place their money in the South East of England.
Recently the BBC undertook a thorough investigation into Universal Credit and all their filming was done in Flintshire. It showed how people in our communities have been forced into poverty by this fundamentally flawed system of social security.
We were one of the first areas in the country to see Universal Credit rolled out and I have seen first hand the horrendous effects it has on people’s lives. The new Secretary of State hasn’t seen the BBC investigation and I urged her to watch it immediately to learn of the utter chaos it is wreaking on people’s lives.
The roll-out of Universal Credit has proven to be a failure. The independent National Audit Office concluded that the Government should stop any further implementation of the new welfare payment as too many people were being left in debt.
The Secretary of State has been very frugal with the truth. She said that because the NAO said that the roll-out shouldn’t be slower (because they said it should be halted) she is interpreting that as a green light to speed up the process.
Thankfully I had two questions at Work and Pensions questions today so was able to quote the NAO report back at the minister. The Government may want to shove its head in the sand and pretend all is well but the experts and facts detail just how failed Universal Credit is.