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Teesside Tories need a reality check on Universal Credit

I'm angry about comments during a recent radio interview on BBC Tees from local Conservative MP, Simon Clarke, about the impact of benefit changes on people in the North East.

When hearing a story about a woman left with £3 from Friday to Monday because of the failing roll-out of Universal Credit Simon Clarke’s reaction is to be angry with the local charity assisting her, accusing them of ‘distortions’ and ‘smears.’ He should be thoroughly ashamed.

Mr Clarke criticised the statement from the East Durham Trust who highlighted the woman’s case and operate a foodbank in their local area calling it - ‘fury-spitting offensive.’

I am also angry about this but for very different reasons to Mr Clarke. Advance payments for Universal Credit only provide 2 weeks money with many people waiting 6 or 7 weeks which is clearly inadequate. The Child Poverty Action Group say Universal Credit will put 1 million children into poverty and the Trussell Trust has reported a 30% increase in Foodbank use in areas where Universal Credit has been fully rolled out. These are the reasons I am furious with the Universal Credit roll out.

Across both our Constituencies 46,000 will be affected by the change to Universal Credit and I can only hope that Mr Clarke is more sympathetic to his own constituents issues with the change to Universal Credit than he was on the radio earlier in the week. Instead of criticising people for pointing out the glaring mistakes his government is making on this issue he should spend more time trying to influence the government to pause the roll out of Universal Credit so it delivers what it was supposed to, a simpler system that makes work pay. Right now it does neither.

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