I have just watched my MP, Elizabeth Truss, being interviewed at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester. I am shocked, though not surprised, at her absolute lack of compassion towards those affected by the disastrous roll out of Universal Credit and her ignorance of what is happening in her own area relative to Jobcentre services.
In the interview she states that where Universal Credit claimants are having to wait, in some cases up to 12 weeks for payments , it is “down to the Jobcentre to offer local support”. I wonder, when she speaks of “my experience of my local jobcentre which I visited recently” which Jobcentre she means. She speaks of emergency assistance being available; 42 per cent of claimants are experiencing delays.
How incompetent, and frankly cruel, does a department have to be to continue rolling out something that is clearly resulting in intolerable suffering for families across the country?
At Hunstanton foodbank (the Jobcentre there has gone too) a parent of two children admitted to having fed them nothing but bread and jam for a week. On Look East recently we saw the case of a woman who had 4p to her name. If your local Jobcentre has been closed down, how exactly do you afford the bus or train to Lynn to get emergency help? It is also the case that the “excellent network of Jobcentres” she describes is ever diminishing.
As recently as July 2017 the closure of around 70 Jobcentres was announced with the loss, ironically, of 750 jobs. And who are these claimants she speaks of who say that “Universal Credit is great”? Many people who are claiming Universal Credit are working families in poverty who, I am sure, would much rather not be relying on this punitive state.
How dare somebody who has so much condescend to suggest that her Government is “helping people get into the positive habit of being in work, managing a budget on a monthly basis” when actually what is happening is people are being forced into using foodbanks, getting into rent arrears and facing a winter of abject misery?
Angry? Of course I am. Any person with an ounce of humanity would be. If there is any justice in the world Ellizabeth’s next experience of a Jobcentre will be as a claimant.