MP’s blast over welfare ‘cruelty’

The hardships being suffered by Blackpool residents were laid bare to Prime Minister David Cameron during a heated exchange in Parliament.

Blackpool South MP Gordon Marsden used yesterday’s Prime Minister’s Question Time to put pressure on Mr Cameron about the impact welfare reforms are having on ordinary people.

He said: “As the Prime Minister sits down for Christmas dinner to’ chillax’ with his family and friends, will he spare a thought for my Blackpool constituents, and half a million others, whose Christmas is mired in the incompetence and random cruelty of DWP’s benefits sanctions.

“My casework on this includes the woman denied Jobseekers Allowance for doing work at one local branch of a national charity rather than another.

“Will his New Year’s resolution be resolving this chaos on sanctions and Universal Credit?”

But Mr Cameron said economic recovery was the key to making people’s lives better.

He told Mr Marsden: “I think the best thing we can do for his constituents, and indeed everyone’s constituents, is to keep on with the economic plan that is generating more jobs in our country.

“If you look at the North West, the number of people employed is up by 37,000 since the election.

“Unemployment has fallen by 29,000 since the election.

“We need to keep on with that while of course making sure the benefits system works for people who need it.

“But he doesn’t do his constituents any favours by talking down the performance of the economy.”

Afterwards Mr Marsden said his constituent had been without her benefits for a month until he intervened and they were reinstated.

He said: “The Prime Minister should be putting pressure on Iain Duncan Smith about this and I will continue to raise it.”