MPs have been relaying the experiences of their constituents due to have their income devastated by the universal credit cut, but hardly anyone has been there to hear it.
The Commons voted whether to cut universal credit on Wednesday, but despite repeated warnings from experts that it will push thousands into poverty – coupled with a fervent defence from the government that the focus should be on jobs, not welfare – the Commons benches were noticeably empty during the debate.
Speaking in parliament, MPs relayed anecdotal evidence from struggling families in their constituencies and exchanged accusations of failure – on the economy, on jobs and on social security – with opposing parties.
But, while politicians came and went during the debate – which kicked off shortly after Prime Minister’s Questions – there were few more than 30 present in the Commons chamber at times. Some 253 opposition MPs voted for Labour’s motion not to cut the benefit, and zero voted against.
Conservatives abstained, meaning the motion could pass, but it is not binding and the government intends to cut universal credit anyway.
Zarah Sultana, Labour MP for Coventry South, tweeted during the debate after noticing a dwindling number of Conservative MPs taking part.