I recently received confirmation that one of my constituents, with the support of my constituency office team, had been awarded more than £2,000 in benefits that had been wrongly withheld. While that was welcome—he certainly welcomed it—why should somebody have to go to the MP, and why should an MP’s staff spend days and days on an individual case just to get somebody the money that is theirs by right?
For 18 months, my constituents have been used as guinea pigs for a failed and failing system. During that time, rent arrears have increased, food bank usage has increased and personal debt has increased. One of the Secretary of State’s ministerial colleagues actually suggested that the reason for the increase in food bank use might be that everybody knows where the food bank is, but nobody can find the jobcentre. Glenrothes jobcentre is right next to the bus station, and someone cannot get a bus in or out of Glenrothes without going past the jobcentre. Does the Secretary of State believe her colleague that the increase in food bank use in my constituency is because a high-profile jobcentre has become invisible, or would it be more honest to say that food bank use is increasing because my constituents and many others are victims of a welfare system that is no longer fit for purpose?