I have continued to press the Secretary of State for the utter shambles that is Universal Credit.
I am particularly concerned of an flaw in the system whereby a woman who is in employment, but for less than the 26 weeks needed for Statutory Maternity Pay from their employer is placed on Maternity Allowance. She will be no worse off at this point, but when she goes to apply for Universal Credit, Maternity Pay is counted as an unemployment subsidy and therefore doesn’t qualify women for the full entitlement of Universal Credit. People are worse off because of Universal Credit.
The UK Government need to learn that this new benefit is not working and they must rethink how it is implemented. Let us not forget that independent analysis shows that women are living with 87% of the burden of austerity under this government.
The Labour Party put forward a motion to the Commons that the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Esther McVey MP, should be docked 4 weeks wages for her failure to tell the truth to Parliament We think it is only right that the Secretary of State is treated the same way as someone on Universal Credit who makes an error and completes a form incorrectly – they lose 4 weeks of pay so she should too.
I am deeply concerned that the Secretary of State not only lied to the Commons in response to two of my questions, but she is seemingly continuing to misleading the House now.
She said that she realised she made a mistake after my question, but it then took her 48 hours to come to the House to apologise. It is looking likely that this was not the case and the only reason why she came to the Commons was because she had been found out by the National Audit Office. I am going to continue to work with my Frontbench colleagues to ensure that we get to the bottom of this.
The National Audit Office (NAO) took the unprecedented step on Wednesday of publishing an open letter informing everyone that the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions had misled the Commons when replying to mine and Margaret Greenwood MPs questions on Universal Credit.
Today, the Secretary of State was hauled in front of the Commons to apologise. I demanded an apology for her actions – something that was not forthcoming. But in her response she notes how she went back to her office and realised that she had misled the House. This was on Monday evening. She didn’t appear before the Commons again until after Prime Ministers Questions on Wednesday. So questions now stand to why did she not inform me and the House on Tuesday. It now may be the case that the minister has misled the House again when she was pulled in front of us to apologise for misleading the Commons. I will be watching this closely.
Misleading the House under the ministerial code is a sackable offence and if proved that the Secretary of State is a repeat offender she should resign. Thousands of Delyn constituents have seen their Universal Credit payments refused or delays because they make a small mistake on their application forms. How is it right that the Secretary of State can make such massive mistake and still keep her job?
We were one of the first areas to see Universal Credit (UC) introduced. I have received hundreds of cases since then of people not getting the social security payments they are due.
This week the independent National Audit Office published a damning report stating how UC is failing and should not be rolled out any further until the flaws are sorted.
I have been telling the Government this for months. At today’s statement I pressed once again for more action to be taken to help people who live in rural areas get access to their payments. It is all well and good the Government saying that people should just pop into the local job centre but that is easier said than done if you live in the more rural parts of Flintshire.