Margaret Greenwood MP on her work as Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

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06 Apr 2020
It has been an honour to serve as Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions as a member of Jeremy Corbyn's shadow cabinet over the last two years. In that time I have sought to hold the Government to account on the deep cuts it has made to social security which have caused hardship to thousands of people.

A comprehensive social security system is a vital component of a civilised society, there to support people should they become ill, unemployed, bereaved or in need of support for any other reason. Under successive Conservative governments, our social security system has been severely eroded through policies such as the two-child limit and the four-year freeze in working-age benefits.

As a result we have seen an increase in child poverty and in-work poverty and the government's flagship social security policy, Universal Credit, has pushed many into debt, rent arrears and to food banks. Meanwhile, people working in DWP call centres have reported high levels of stress as they have seen their workloads increase.

The current coronavirus crisis has shone a light on the failings in our social security system in the most urgent of situations.

Over the last month I have worked hard to bring pressure to bear on the government to respond to this crisis by ensuring everyone has true social security, calling on them to increase the level of Statutory Sick Pay and ensure that all workers have a right to claim it so that anyone who feels unwell is able to stay off work if they need to. I've also called for support for the self-employed and increased levels of social security to help people feed themselves and their families.

I would like to thank everyone who has supported me in this role and all those who have campaigned on social security issues. People want change and I believe that the current situation has increased the urgency of this.

I wish my successor, Jonathan Reynolds, well and I know that he shares my concern to create a social security system that genuinely protects people from poverty and reflects the responsibility we all have for one another.

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