Here’s a quick budget day reminder of Esther McVey’s shocking opinion about Universal Credit

Esther McVey
Fréa Lockley

On budget day 2018, here’s a quick reminder of Esther McVey‘s shocking thoughts about the Department for Work and Pensions’ (DWP) controversial Universal Credit benefit.


When a journalist pointed out that there was “a lot of concern” about the benefit and asked if more money would be available in the budget, McVey said:

Well, we’ll have to see what the chancellor says in his budget speech today.

She smiled as she said this:

But since she’s work and pensions secretary and head of the DWP, her curt response was unusual. Because McVey has very strong opinions about the ‘benefits’ of Universal Credit. Campaigner Rachel Swindon gave a timely reminder of McVey’s words just a few weeks ago at the Conservative Party conference.

On 1 October, McVey really did say:

If you were to believe everything you heard from Labour or read on social media you’d think we were somehow letting down the most vulnerable in society. Especially disabled people.

However, those who say we are cutting budgets are peddling fake news.

So here’s the real news – we have never spent more on those with disabilities and long-term health conditions.

Sorry, what?

McVey’s comments, especially in relation to disabled people are callous, at best. The situation is so bad that the UN said successive Conservative-led governments had committed “grave” and “systematic” violations of disabled people’s human rights. And as The Canary has frequently reported, the impact of Universal Credit is devastating.

Meanwhile, the Independent reported that Universal Credit is “fatally undermined by the Tories’ other brutal welfare cuts”. Deven Ghelani, a former DWP advisor and architect of the policy, explained:

You can’t balance the books on the backs of the poorest people in the country, if you are going to make a reform like universal credit work.

As the Independent stated: the “misery” is an:

inevitable knock-on from £12bn of “salami-sliced cuts”, including the benefit freeze, the benefit cap, the “bedroom tax” and curbs to council tax support

“Callous complacency”

The Labour Party is, however, challenging the policy. On 28 October, shadow chancellor John McDonnell called out the government’s “callous complacency” about Universal Credit. McDonnell has called on MPs to “vote against this budget” if it’s not halted.

Far from fake news, this sounds like the best thing anyone has ever said about the policy.

Let’s hope that it’s finally time up for the DWP, McVey, and the cruel chaos of Universal Credit.

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– Read more from The Canary on Universal Credit.

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Featured image via screengrab/YouTube

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Fréa Lockley