The DWP boss was just trashed live on TV

Therese Coffey on Sky News and the DWP logo
Support us and go ad-free

The boss of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) got a rude awakening on Wednesday 14 October. Because she was demolished live on TV. And the host left her no wriggle room to escape criticism of the Tories’ jobs support response to the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

The DWP boss: dodgy as…

Work and pensions secretary Thérèse Coffey was on Sky News. Host Kay Burley was asking her about government coronavirus schemes and also Universal Credit. The latter is the contentious social security payment that rolls six previous benefits into one. It’s hit the headlines a lot during the pandemic.

Burley was probing Coffey on whether the government’s Job Support Scheme paid enough for someone to live on.

Burley asked:

Could you live on £5.84 an hour?

The National reported that this amount is what a person usually earning minimum wage would get on the government’s Job Support Scheme. As The Canary previously reported, this is the scheme where government pays 67% of someone’s wages. It means the person will lose the other 33% unless their employer makes up the shortfall.

Like the good Tory minister she is, Coffey repeatedly dodged the question. She swerved to bringing up Universal Credit:

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free

if people have potentially that level of income coming in, then they can turn to Universal Credit. They may be eligible for that

Burley was straight back to £5.84:

My question is, could you live on that?

Coffey got increasingly flustered. She argued that Universal Credit would “top that up”. But Burley came back at her again. She clearly knew that on Universal Credit, some freelancers are having a nightmare. As Vice noted, it’s a “shitty reality” due to the benefit not paying enough. So, Burley was at Coffey again – ultimately leaving her with nowhere to go:

It’s little wonder Coffey was stumbling. Because government support for people losing their jobs is turning into a shambles.

Social security shambles

The Canary previously reported about this state of affairs. The thinktank, the Resolution Foundation found that Universal Credit:

would only replace a fifth of the newly unemployed worker’s lost income.

Resolution Foundation Job Schemes Coronavirus

But that’s not been the only problem with the welfare system during the pandemic.

The government has not helped people on old style social security at all. That’s those on, for example, Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA). The Tories have increased Universal Credit by around £20 a week. But they’ve not done the same for ESA or JSA.

Thrown under the bus. Again.

As of February 2020, 1.9 million people claimed ESA. But the government has given these people no extra help. 1.6 million of these claimants are sick and/or disabled. Much like the much-criticised Coronavirus Act which has removed parts of people’s social care entitlement, the government has left these people to fend for themselves. Meanwhile, it’s ploughed billions into businesses and some, but not all, workers.

As is often the case, sick and disabled people are wilfully at the bottom of government priorities. Low-paid workers are struggling, and will continue to struggle on Universal Credit. The government should not abandon these people. But nor should it support them while ignoring the situation for millions of sick and disabled people. A government’s role is to support all its citizens. Not just those who it thinks are worthy.

Featured image via Sky News – YouTube and Wikimedia

Support us and go ad-free

Do your bit for independent journalism

Did you know that less than 1.5% of our readers contribute financially to The Canary? Imagine what we could do if just a few more people joined our movement to achieve a shared vision of a free and fair society where we nurture people and planet.

We need you to help out, if you can.

When you give a monthly amount to fund our work, you are supporting truly independent journalism. We hold power to account and have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence the counterpoint to the mainstream.

You can count on us for rigorous journalism and fearless opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right wing mainstream media.

In return you get:

  • Advert free reading experience
  • Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
  • 20% discount from our shop


The Canary Fund us
  • Show Comments
    1. And spare a thought for state pensioners without an occupational pension to top up their income. £134.25pw is less than £4per hour, calculated on a 37.5 hour week.

      And the living wage is only a living wage if you’re able to get a full-time job. If jobs are scarce, or if you’re forced into the exploitative gig economy, or if you’re self-employed, don’t look to the state to bail you out.

    2. What a nasty little right wing bitch she has become, but just so everyone knows, although she represents a constituency in Suffolk as does Matt the TW*T Hancock, Suffolk people are actually one of the kindest nicest people you could meet. Stupid for voting these animals in ? Yes but share their values ? Never !

      I am afraid for the future now that the billionaire owned MSM and Tory party propaganda wing the BBC have got their way. The model of choice for despots, dictators and Dominic (should have gone to specsavers) Cummins, is to blame someone or something that has nothing to do with the problem they created, Brexit and immigration, Covid 19 even though they never explain why we are number 3 in the countries with the worst death rates from it!

      I’m afraid that until the left get their act together and stop trying to be better tories than the real ones, we are faced with much more of the same. Expect the human rights legislation to go because it stops us being competitive with India and china, expect the minimum wage to drop or even go because employers cant make decent profits for their owners and expect the NHS to finally take the plunge into full private Yankee owned health care, remember Royal Mail ? Which although still called that is in no way associated with royalty and now the NHS tracing App which is nothing whatsoever to do with the NHS but is everything to do with profit for the private company that runs it and incidentally that company does not take any tests from the real NHS !

    Leave a Reply

    Join the conversation

    Please read our comment moderation policy here.