Universal Credit

Part of Estimates 2014-15 — Department for Work and Pensions – in the House of Commons at 6:22 pm on 7th July 2014.

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Photo of Glenda Jackson Glenda Jackson Labour, Hampstead and Kilburn 6:22 pm, 7th July 2014

I am sure that my right hon. Friend, and I would hope every Member of this House, would be shocked to realise that the DWP is still not giving the right answers—it is ludicrous to expect the right answer to come from the Department of Work and Pension, as simple humility is not part and parcel of its make-up. The Committees and Government Departments that scrutinise where public money goes are being pushed to one side. I have already referred to the bunker mentality of the DWP, and the example that my right hon. Friend gives me is just par for the course; it happens constantly. Arguments are not even being put up. We are all being told, “Oh no, it’s none of your business; it’s our business.” My hon. Friend the Chair of the Select Committee has given details of the actual answers. There is a pattern, which I find very disturbing. I have already touched on the issue of disregarding any serious questioning on costs. Ever since this major benefit change came into being, the Department has employed what I would call a programme of black propaganda, and every single one of the red tops has taken it up with glee and run with it. That black propaganda told the people of this country—I am paraphrasing; the DWP would never be this cogent—that everyone who was claiming benefits was doing so because they were too lazy to work. Nothing could be further from the truth. I have already touched on the agonies that are being endured by people with serious mental and physical disabilities, and the pattern is ongoing.

A report from the Office for National Statistics last week scrutinised the level of complaints made against all the Government Departments about the misuse of statistics, and guess which one came top of the list! It was the Department for Work and Pensions. Throughout the time I have been a member of the Select Committee, we have raised again and again the issue of the misuse of stats and the misuse of the English language to proselytise this black propaganda and to confuse and distort what should be central to the Committee’s concerns—namely, the well-being of the people who require benefits, not because they are lazy or workshy, or even because there are no jobs, but because they should be supported by the people of this country, as they always have been.

After the last debate on this issue, I was touched to receive a response from the people of this country. If there is a silver lining to the black cloud that is the DWP, it is that the majority of people in this country still believe that the welfare state should do what it was meant to do, which is to support people who, through no fault of their own, cannot maintain themselves without the support of the rest of us. That support is alive and well out there in the country. The one place where it is certainly dead is within the Department for Work and Pensions.