Esther McVey gets attacked and shows her 'fortress mentality'
Watch: The work and pensions secretary tried to sound chirpy while slamming the door on a reporter.
MPs have accused the Department for Work and Pensions of ignoring the "unacceptable hardship" suffered by benefit claimants switching to the controversial Universal Credit system.
A report from the Public Accounts Committee says that Ester McVey's department has adopted a "fortress mentality" against critics of the flagship benefits regime. Whatever could they mean?
When Sky News tracked down McVey at her constituency office, the work and pensions secretary tried her best not to sound as though she desperately did not want to talk about it.
Asked if there was time for a quick chat, McVey refused to stop in her tracks and responded bafflingly: “Well there is, but I’ve just got to get into work here.”
Asked if she had presided over a culture of denial, she turned her back to the camera and replied “absolutely not”, before saying something else involving acronyms that the reporter couldn’t hear properly.
Asked if she could repeat her comments, she replied: "I can but I'm going inside."
And then then she shut the door with a firm thud.
Universal credit is the most radical change to Britain’s welfare system in decades, rolling six benefits into one, which is paid in arrears, to mimic a monthly wage packet. The DWP’s own survey found that 40% of people were experiencing financial difficulties eight or nine months into their claim and McVey recently admitted the rollout would leave “some people worse off”.
Public accounts committee’s chair Meg Hillier said: “This report provides further damning evidence of a culture of indifference at DWP – a department disturbingly adrift from the real-world problems of the people it is there to support.”