Last week was an extremely busy one in Parliament for Work and Pensions issues, with a debate on Monday on the Select Committee’s report on Universal Credit and another debate on Thursday in Westminster Hall on our report into Jobcentre Plus (JCP). I also spoke at a Conference on fraud and error in the Department for Work and Pensions, outlining the findings of the Committee’s inquiry on this issue!
During the Universal Credit debate, I put on the record once again my concerns about the swathe of errors not just in universal credit but, in the other programmes for welfare reform. I also highlighted again my concerns about the unfortunate way in which welfare reforms have been framed and debated in the media, including irresponsible press releases that perpetuate the vilification of people on benefits and paint them as the new undeserving poor. My full speech can be read here.
In the Committee’s Inquiry on the work of Jobcentre Plus, the Minister agreed to hold a second wider independent review into inappropriate sanctions, but then reneged on this commitment. During the debate on the report last Thursday I concentrated my speech on inappropriate sanctions, the evidence presented to me by a JCP whistleblower and possible discrepancies in the claimant count for those santioned.
I will continue to press DWP Ministers on these issues to ensure this failing and chaotic Department is properly held to account.