MARK Pawsey has declined an invitation to visit the Job Centre to meet people who claim to have been adversely affect by the introduction of Universal Credit other other welfare reforms – saying it would not be productive.
Rugby’s MP was urged by one of the challengers to his Parliamentary seat to hold the face-to-face talks.
It has been claimed payments of the new all-in-one benefit – being piloted in Rugby – have been cancelled for accidentally missed appointments while one cancer sufferer said his had stopped because he was told he could not rearrange an appointment despite it clashing with hospital treatment and one woman claimed to have been stopped money because her allotted appointment was on New Year’s Day when the Job Centre was closed.
Pete McLaren, of the Trade Unionists and Socialist Coalition (TUSC), who invited Mr Pawsey to speak directly to claimants affected, accused him of being unable to defend his own Government’s policies.
But Mr Pawsey told us: “I am more than happy to meet with Mr McLaren and those of my constituents to whom he refers to in his letter but I do not believe it would be productive to hold such a meeting outside the local Job Centre.
“Mr McLaren has stated the local residents whom he has spoken with are concerned that contacting me to discuss their personal experiences could jeopardise their relationship with the DWP so it would be far more sensible to meet in the privacy of one of my advice surgeries.
“Soon after my election as Rugby’s MP in 2010 I met with Mr McLaren, and members of the TUSC, in my office in Rugby and I believe we were all in agreement afterwards that it was a productive meeting.
“I am more than happy to meet again and would welcome Mr McLaren getting in touch with my office to arrange a time that is convenient to him, and any of my constituents who so wish, to meet with me.”
Mr McLaren, who will stand against Mr Pawsey at next year’s general election, told us he needed to hear at first hand the the suffering they are experiencing as a direct result of his government’s welfare reforms, but has confirmed he had accepted the offer to meet at his offices.
“We will do that, and we will report the results, but it is not enough,” he added.
“MPs need to listen directly to claimants to hear how these reforms are impacting.”