May’s DWP claims at PMQs were debunked before she began

Theresa May and Esther McVey and the DWP logo

At Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) on Wednesday 24 October, Theresa May made some bold claims about the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). Sadly for her, a fact-checking site had already debunked them before she’d even opened her mouth.

The DWP: May leaps in

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was pushing the PM about Universal Credit. He put it to her that:

Two weeks ago, the prime minister told the House that people on Universal Credit will be protected. The very next day, the secretary of state for work and pensions said some people will be worse off on Universal Credit.

Which statement is true?

A rattled May, after sneering at shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry, dived head-first into a defence of the DWP’s contentious policy. She said that Labour criticises the benefit:

because they don’t want to know what happens in terms of Universal Credit.

200,000 more people into work. 700,000 people getting the extra money they’re entitled to. And one million disabled households get more money per month.

Read on...

We’re not replicating the old system. Because the old system didn’t work. This is a system that helps people into work, and makes sure work pays.

May’s claims about 700,000 people and one million disabled households getting more money are odd, at best. Because DWP boss Esther McVey has admitted that Universal Credit could make millions of households £200 a month worse off.

But it was the PM’s claim about the benefit getting “200,000 more people into work” which is most dodgy.

La, la, la. I’m not listening.

The website FullFact had torn apart the idea that Universal Credit equals more people in work. And it did this the day before PMQs.

It said of the increase in employment levels:

there is not enough evidence available to know how strong the link is between welfare policies and employment.

It also noted that the National Audit Office (NAO) said:

the [DWP] will never be able to measure whether Universal Credit actually leads to 200,000 more people in work.

Not that May had listened. Nor does she ever listen. Which is much like the DWP, then.

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