Employment and Support Allowance and Universal Credit

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:38 pm on 17th November 2016.

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Photo of Jim Shannon Jim Shannon Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Health), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Transport), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Equality) 2:38 pm, 17th November 2016

It is a pleasure to speak in this important debate. I thank Neil Gray for setting the scene so well. Right hon. and hon. Members across the Chamber have made marvellous contributions. I have the pleasure of speaking on behalf of the DUP and am happy to have the same attitude as others on the right way forward.

ESA is a complex, complicated benefit with many different aspects. Like many other MPs, I have a full-time member of staff dedicated to working with people to help to calculate their benefits and fill out the confusing, complicated forms. She works some 37.5 hours a week—sometime more in her own time—and always has a waiting list of people to see her. That is how it is in my office, and I suspect it is the same in others. On my constituency days, I also take on the benefits problems, while the admin staff in my office handle the day-to-day queries. A lot of our time is spent trying to help people, which is why today’s debate is so important to my constituents and to me. I watch the struggles that people go through and wonder how these vulnerable and ill people can go through more.