Wirral MP criticises government over ‘shocking’ poverty statistics

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29 Mar 2019
Margaret Greenwood, MP for Wirral West, has accused the government of being ‘in denial’ over the ‘devastating impact of austerity on families’ in Parliament yesterday and called on them to halt plans to cut pensioner benefits from retired people who have a younger partner.

The Wirral West MP was responding to new poverty statistics published by the government yesterday which show that in 2017-18 the number of people in relative poverty was 14 million; the number in absolute poverty after housing costs increased by 100,000 to 12.5 million and that the number of pensioners living in poverty rose by 100,000 to 2 million.

Speaking after the exchange in the House of Commons, Margaret Greenwood MP, the Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, said:

“The figures published are truly shocking and make clear the crisis in poverty in our country. 

"It is a national scandal that 14 million people, including 4.1 million children, are living in poverty in one of the richest countries in the world.

“Failures within the social security system are playing a part, and for some the move to Universal Credit can trigger real hardship.

“I know from the conversations that I have had with people running food banks just how desperate things are for many people. Yet the government seems to be in a state of denial about the misery this is causing.

“It’s not just families with children who are struggling. Pensioner poverty is on the increase, and this is set to get worse if the government goes ahead with its plans to cut the incomes of thousands of mixed age couples.

“From 15th May pensioners who have a spouse or partner who is of working age will have to claim Universal Credit instead of Pension Credit if they need to make a new claim for social security. Some couples will lose out by as much as £6,000 a year.

“The Conservative government is breaking a key manifesto promise not to cut pensioner benefits apart from Winter Fuel Allowance by this measure.

“I called on the government to rethink its plans and stop this attack on low income pensioners.

“We have a growing poverty crisis in this country and it is really important that the government takes urgent action to address it.”

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