Universal Credit Roll-out: 16th November 2017

Anna Soubry (Broxtowe) (Con)
These are heartbreaking and unacceptable accounts, but I wonder whether the right hon. Gentleman can help me. When I met the citizens advice bureau in Broxtowe, where we had UC being rolled out in July, I was told that it is now making the arrangements with all relevant authorities so that these very examples do not exist. My question to the right hon. Gentleman is: did these constituents come to him at the end of this ghastly process or earlier? If they had come earlier, they would find that we as MPs all have exactly the access to speed it up. Does he agree that we should be doing this now before it comes out in our areas?

Frank Field
I could not agree more, although I have been here a little longer than the right hon. Lady and I never thought that as an MP I would be speaking like this, about this, with my job being adapted in this way. Of course we have had summits, and we are continuing to have them, bringing all the people together, including Jobcentre Plus, to try to prevent these things from happening. Despite those efforts, these are the cases of horror that are resulting and that I am presenting to the House.

Anna Soubry
I was a member of the Select Committee on Scottish Affairs when we discussed the situation of the Glasgow jobcentres. Will the hon. Gentleman confirm that Glasgow had somewhere in the region of 16 jobcentres and that the DWP’s very excellent proposal—in fact, it was not radical enough, in my view—was to reduce that number to eight? We compared the number of jobcentres in comparable cities in other parts of the country that had comparable employment rates, and they often had two or three jobcentres, as opposed to eight.

Mr Deputy Speaker (Mr Lindsay Hoyle)
Order! Too long; far too long.

Anna Soubry
Broxtowe CAB has told me that it is concerned about people who are on fluctuating hours, and those fluctuations and the lack of good co-ordination with HMRC are causing real problems for people on low wages who are in receipt of UC.

Kate Green
I am delighted that the right hon. Lady has raised that issue because it brings me neatly to my next point, which is about the particular problems that their arise with the assessment period.​