13/11/2017 16:24 GMT | Updated 13/11/2017 17:38 GMT

Ministers Accused MPs Of Scaremongering Five Times After They Raised Universal Credit Fears

DWP secretary David Gauke said people will not wait long periods for payments.

Government ministers accused opposition MPs of scaremongering five times after they raised concerns about the roll-out of Universal Credit. 

Work and pensions secretary David Gauke said members should talk about the overhaul of the benefits system “in a more responsible way” as he was questioned in the Commons on Monday afternoon. 

Several Labour and SNP members gave examples of incidents where their constituents had faced housing problems or had to wait long periods for their first payment of Universal Credit - which is being rolled out gradually across the country and will replace the six main benefits.

Gauke, along with junior ministers Damian Hinds and Caroline Dinenage, dismissed claims people would have to wait weeks before being paid and said advances were available to those in desperate need. 

“I repeatedly make the point that nobody needs to wait a long period of time for cash support under the Universal Credit system, and to suggest otherwise is causing unnecessary anxiety for those who are not [yet] on Universal Credit, and I am afraid I think we should all discuss this in a slightly more responsible manner,” he said.

Labour MPs accused the government of dismissing legitimate concerns, with DWP select committee chairman Frank Field highlighting a foodbank in his Birkenhead constituency that had been forced to stockpile tonnes of extra provisions. 

Jeremy Corbyn called on the government to halt the implementation of Universal Credit at an event in County Durham at the weekend.

The Labour leader was meeting MP Laura Pidcock and Citizens Advice staff who are preparing for the new benefits scheme to start next month in the area.

He said: “Why don’t they say: ‘We have looked at it, we have listened, we have heard the hardship, we are going to pause the roll out?’”

Corbyn said there should then be consultations with experts including from Citizens Advice.

He added: “We must pause and fix Universal Credit now, before millions of people are made worse off.”