Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:03 pm on 13th September 2017.

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Photo of Jon Ashworth Jon Ashworth Shadow Secretary of State for Health 1:03 pm, 13th September 2017

I want to make progress; but I will try to let in as many hon. Members as possible.

We have all read reports of nurses on their way home from a shift stopping off at food banks. The Royal College of Nursing tells us that two-thirds of its members are forced to undertake bank and agency work to help make ends meet. Is that not an example of how self-defeating the pay cap is, because it is driving an agency bill of £3.7 billion in the NHS?

We have all read surveys showing that more and more NHS staff are turning to payday loan companies and pawning their possessions, and we will have heard from the RCN lobby recently of the huge hardship that our nurses are facing. Many nurses have been in touch with us.

Let me give the House the story of Rebecca, who got in touch with my hon. Friend Debbie Abrahams. Her story brings into sharp focus the impact of the pay cap, particularly when it is combined with the severe social security cuts that the Government are pushing through. Rebecca is a single parent. She was originally on working tax credit, but she was transferred to universal credit last year, with her payments falling as a result. As a consequence of that reduction and of the ongoing cap on her wages, which have lost their value, she has accrued rent arrears of over £800. Her landlord has now issued her with an eviction notice. There we have it: nurses are turning to food banks, pawning their possessions, and even being issued with eviction notices. Is that not shameful in 21st-century Britain? What a depressing human consequence of Tory economics.