Tory Work and Pensions Secretary, Esther McVey MP, has once again come under fire after misleadingly telling MPs that charities and other organisations support the Government’s flagship Universal Credit scheme.
Esther McVey told MPs on Monday that charities like MIND and Gingerbread are supportive of changes to Universal Credit announced in the Autumn Budget, as well as further changes revealed earlier this week that include a reduction in the length of time people have to wait before receiving their first payment – from five weeks to three weeks.
Ms McVey brazenly told MPs that the changes announced in the Autumn Budget by Chancellor Philip Hammond “had received praise from across the charity sector”, including the Joseph Rowntree Foundation whom she said had welcomed a £1.7bn funding boost as “a tool for tackling poverty”.
She added: “Other charities have been saying this department now is listening to what claimants are saying, charities are saying, MPs are saying.”
McVey claimed the foodbank network Trussell Trust had said the extra funding “will make a real difference to many people supported by Universal Credit”, and that the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) welcomed the changes as “unequivocally good news for families receiving Universal Credit”.
But some of the charities mentioned have since slapped down McVey for misrepresenting their views.
Vicki Nash, Head of Policy and Campaigns at Mind told iNews: “The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Esther McVey mentioned Mind in her Universal Credit regulations statement.
“We have repeatedly raised our concerns with the Department of Work and Pensions about UC and the regulations and so wanted to make it clear where we stand on the issue.
“These regulations confirmed our worst fears – that in the move over to UC three million people, including hundreds of thousands of people with mental health problems, will be forced to make a new claim.
“This risks many being left without income and pushed into poverty. The regulations have done little to meet this fundamental problem – as it stands there is still no safety net for people before or during the move to UC.”
“The Government must do the right thing and withdraw these regulations, before they fall squarely on some of the most vulnerable in society.”
The charity Gingerbread, who support single parents, said on Twitter: “We want to be clear – we support changes to the system that benefit single parents, but this statement does not paint the full picture.
“We are not complacent and are clear these changes do not do enough to make the system work for single parents.”
McVey has become infamous for repeatedly making false and misleading claims in and outside of Parliament.
In July 2018 she was forced to apologise to MPs for misleading Parliament about the contents of a National Audit Office report.
McVey admitted: “Whilst speaking in Parliament, in answer to questions on the National Audit Office report into Universal Credit, I mistakenly said that the NAO had asked for the rollout of Universal Credit to continue at a faster rate and to be speeded up.
“In fact the NAO did not say that Mr Speaker, and I want to apologise to you and the House for inadvertently misleading you.
“What I had meant to say was that the NAO had said that there was ‘no practical alternative to continuing with Universal Credit’.