Mike Amesbury has spoken in the House of Commons over the government’s rollout of universal credit, labelling it "shambolic".
Labour had tabled an opposition day motion aimed at pausing and fixing the rollout of the government’s flagship welfare reform due to problems with its implementation that have caused delays in some payment. But the Tories abstained from the vote completely.
Universal credit – which rolls six benefits into one – has already been introduced in some parts of Mr Amesbury's Weaver Vale constituency.
During the Commons debate, Mr Amesbury raised the issue of a number of his constituents that had contacted him for help, such as one called Lucy who was forced to take wage slips to the local Jobcentre after a catalogue of errors from government departments meant that her payments were miscalculated.
Lucy was left in arrears for rent and council tax, with no money for food for weeks on end. Her request for an advance payment was ignored, and she was told that “this is happening to quite a lot of people".
Mr Amesbury told the House: “My issue is not with the aim of the policy itself. We can see the value in the basic principles of universal credit and what it is trying to achieve – and nor is our dispute with the staff at our local Jobcentres. Yes, I have visited my local Jobcentre, and some are doing everything they can to support residents in circumstances that are not of their making or of their choosing.
“Our argument is with this government, who are overseeing a shambolic implementation that is causing delays, confusion, distress and debt. Our concern is for the thousands of residents and families who are faced with hardship – and, in some cases, hunger and homelessness – while this government carry on regardless, ignoring the effects of their policy on the people of Weaver Vale and this nation.”
Following the vote, Mr Amesbury also wrote to David Gauke, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, asking him to reconsider the policy before it is rolled out across the rest of Weaver Vale.
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