Monday, 4 July 2011

Picklesgate: How Many DWP Ministers Have Lied to the House?

The revelation of Eric Pickles' January letter to the PM expecting 40,000 homeless families as a result of benefit caps and housing benefit changes looks like touching off a row in the Commons as to whether Tory ministers have been systematically lying to Parliament.

An article in the Guardian identifies a DWP report in February and statements in the House by Chris Grayling (Welfare Minister), Grant Shapps (Housing Minister), Maria Miller (Minister for Patronising Disabled People) as all stating that it is either impossible to quantify the number of affected households or that the problem will not get worse. Yet Eric Pickles' Community Department delivered precisely that quantification of the problem into the Prime Minister's hands in January.

Labour are expected to try and force an urgent question on the issue in Parliament today.

According to the DWP it does not accept the figures in the letter and "There might be some people who have to move to a less expensive area. But that doesn't mean they won't have anywhere to live. We are very optimistic about the behavioural change that this will bring about" Behavioural change? That would be us mere plebs not expecting to be able to continue living near right-thinking, posh Tory voters then?

The DWP spokesperson also said "We cannot carry on with a situation where people on benefits can receive more in welfare payments than hard-working families" But what if those people on benefits need that amount of money simply to survive while supporting family members with complex needs?

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