Eastbourne MP challenges Prime Minister on Universal Credit

Eastbourne MP Stephen Lloyd speaking in the House of Commons
Eastbourne MP Stephen Lloyd speaking in the House of Commons

The Eastbourne MP challenged the Prime Minister on the issue of Universal Credit today (Wednesday).

Stephen Lloyd asked Theresa May at PMQs (Prime Minister’s Questions) whether she feels a ‘sense of shame’ over the issue.

He said, “The Child Poverty Action Group recently published some figures which show as a consequence of the cuts to Universal Credit and the benefits freeze single parents with children stand to lose on average £2,380 per annum as a family.

“I would ask the Prime Minister when she was sitting down with her government ministers planning an absolute evisceration of single parents and families whether today she feels a sense of shame?”

Theresa May responded, “I believe the introduction of Universal Credit is very important in helping people get into work and ensuring people can earn more of what they pay.

“Of course we look at the implementation and the impact that implementation is having, as I have said we have made a number of changes in the way it’s being implemented.

“But Universal Credit itself is the right thing to do because it’s enabling people to get back into the work place and helping them when they are in the work place.”

This comes as the single monthly payment replacing some benefits and tax credits was rolled out across Eastbourne last month.

In the few hours running up to the debate, Mr Lloyd posted a number of statistics on social media which he called the ‘Universal Credit Shame Game’.

Every half an hour he released figures which he said showed how worse off each group of people would be because of the new benefit.

The most ‘worse off’ group was single parents, with a loss of income of £2,380 a year, according to a report by the Child Poverty Action Group.

In the past the MP has branded Universal Credit a ‘train wreck’ and said Christmas will be ‘bitterly hard’ for Eastbourne’s families unless it is paused.

Although Mr Lloyd originally supported the policy, which emerged under the Conservative and Lib Dem coalition, he said Government cuts to its funding had rendered it ‘utterly worthless’.

Since its introduction, Universal Credit has been criticised by many – including by Eastbourne Citizens Advice – who argue its six-week wait for payments is too long.

The report Mr Lloyd quoted is available at www.cpag.org.uk