Department for Work and Pensions

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:05 pm on 2nd July 2019.

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Photo of Simon Clarke Simon Clarke Conservative, Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland 3:05 pm, 2nd July 2019

It is a privilege to take part in today’s debate, and I congratulate Alison McGovern on opening it. This is an important issue, and we all know that the DWP goes to the heart of so many of our constituents’ lives.

I welcome the Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, my hon. Friend Will Quince to the Front Bench. He has done important work on all the issues surrounding bereaved parents over the past few weeks, and I think everyone on both sides of the House welcomes the Government’s new position.

Over the two years I have been an MP, I have seen at first hand the hard work, considerable commitment and personal dedication put in by the staff at Loftus jobcentre. I have seen it in the context of the redundancies at the Boulby potash mine in my constituency, which were caused by the move from mining potash to mining polyhalite. The way in which the emergency response team moved, and the work it did to support the workforce into productive and fulfilling jobs was impressive.

That speaks well for the professionalism of the men and women in our jobcentres, many of whom are sometimes unfairly miscast as people who either do not know or do not care about the lives of the people they help—that is certainly not my experience. I do not recognise the Opposition’s characterisation of so much of the front-facing work of the DWP. I tend to find that, if anything, the jobcentre workforce are unbelievably adept, graceful and kind.