Universal Credit

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:00 pm on 17th October 2018.

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Photo of Gordon Henderson Gordon Henderson Conservative, Sittingbourne and Sheppey 2:00 pm, 17th October 2018

Yes, that is an important factor. I also point out that Opposition Members often quote concerns raised by citizens advice bureaux about the impact of UC on local people. Well, I visited my local citizens advice bureaux and suggested that they work closely with my office to identify people with a problem, so that they could be helped. I did the same thing with a local church group that contacted me expressing concerns about UC. In addition, I used social media to ask people to contact me if they were facing difficulties because of UC, or if they knew of somebody facing difficulties. I have had only a handful of people referred to me since we went live in January and all the problems raised were resolved quickly by my staff.

The Opposition have also made much of the use of food banks, and I want to touch on that issue. My first experience of food banks in my constituency was when our local steelworks closed down and some workers were left without any money to buy food for their families. There was a long delay in getting those people the financial help that they needed and to which they were entitled. That delay did not arise under UC, but under the legacy benefit system. We hear repeated claims from Opposition Members that the transition to UC has forced more people to use food banks, so to check their claims, I went to visit a food bank in my constituency last week to find out for myself. [Interruption.] The volunteers who run that food bank are wonderful people for whom I have the utmost respect, as are the volunteers in the other food banks in my constituency.