Esther McVey remark contradicts No 10’s and comes after John Major warned of poll tax-style backlash
'The work and pensions secretary, Esther McVey, has admitted some families will be “worse off” under universal credit, after a warning from Sir John Major that the controversial welfare overhaul could end up being as damaging as the poll tax.
Her comments contradict what Downing Street has said about universal credit this week, after it was reported that McVey told a cabinet meeting that half of lone parents and about two-thirds of working-age couples with children would lose the equivalent of £2,400 a year. The prime minister’s spokesman has since said no one would lose out as they moved on to universal credit.
However, on Thursday McVey admitted it was possible some families would lose out. “I’ve said we made tough decisions. Some people will be worse off,” she told the BBC. “Under the old system, 700,000 people didn’t get £285 a month, so they didn’t get the money they were owed. Under the old system the most vulnerable in society weren’t getting as much money as we are now going to give them.”
Labour hopes to expose Conservative disquiet about the system in an opposition debate in parliament on universal credit planned for next week. The Tory MP Johnny Mercer, an outspoken backbencher, said on Thursday he had grave concerns about the system.“Universal credit was designed so that no one would be worse off,” Mercer tweeted. “Stop the tax-free allowance rise and reinvest into UC, or I can’t support it. Not politically deliverable in Plymouth I’m afraid.”
Read more: Universal credit: welfare secretary admits some families will be worse off