South Cambs Tory MP Heidi Allen has been challenged after claiming that cutting benefits for the poorest in our society would help give them a sense of ‘pride’.
Mrs Allen was speaking in an opposition debate this week in which Owen Smith, shadow secretary for Work and Pensions, and other Labour MPs called on the Government to rethink its plans to cut Universal Credit later this year.
She countered Mr Smith’s call by suggesting families affected by the cuts will, “raise their heads high enough to say, ‘Okay. It’s not great and it’s not the end result, but I am lifting myself and my children off a life of welfare dependency’. In that is a pride.”
Birmingham Labour MP Jess Phillips responded: “I lived on in-work benefits. The delightful feeling of being lifted out of welfare benefits never fed my children.”
After Mrs Allen’s controversial comments were reported in the Cambridge News, South Cambs Labour party chairman John Beresford wrote to the paper.
His letter reads: “I’m confused. Our MP Heidi Allen attacks a reduction in tax credits in her maiden speech, then votes for them, and now says that people in receipt of reduced welfare payments should feel ‘pride’ in being less dependent on the state.
“How far can we go with this? Who else might be persuaded to share this ‘pride’? All those employed in public services volunteering for zero hours contracts? The old forgoing part of their state pension? Rail companies forgoing their state subsidies? Let us know, Heidi.”