Work and pensions secretary Thérèse Coffey was asked if she “has one foot out the door” after she struggled to answer questions at a parliamentary hearing to address the cost of living crisis.
The Work and Pensions Committee heard evidence from third sector and economics experts about how the cost of living crisis is affecting the UK’s poorest households, and what they think the solutions are.
But when Thérèse Coffey appeared in front of MPs on the committee, she said the support already announced by the government was enough to help people cope with soaring energy and food bills and rejected the idea of additional help via the welfare system.
She also struggled to answer questions on increasing food bank use and fuel poverty, saying they were within the remit of other Westminster departments – even though experts said they were a result of Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) decisions.
Policy specialists from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Citizens Advice, the Trussell Trust and the Institute for Fiscal Studies emphasised the cost of living crisis will hit disabled people, who already have hugely inflated living costs, the hardest.
Labour MP Neil Coyle quizzed Coffey on the DWP’s previously piloted ‘yellow card’ scheme, which gave benefit claimants the chance to appeal sanctions they received. Sanctions, which mean an individual’s payments can be cut for sometimes months at a time, have been linked to higher reliance on food banks and rent arrears, particularly for disabled people.