Tory benefits minister sings about ‘having time of my life’ hour after universal credit cut comes into force

Millions hit by income loss ‘aren’t having time of their lives’, says Labour

Adam Forrest
Wednesday 06 October 2021 10:59
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Tory minister sings ‘time of my life’ hour after universal credit cut

Work and pensions secretary Therese Coffey was captured singing “I’ve had the time of my life” only an hour after the £20-a-week cut to universal credit came into force.

The benefits minister was filmed partying at a Conference Party conference karaoke event around 1am on Wednesday – the day her department began cutting the incomes of millions of households.

Labour condemned the timing of Ms Coffey’s revelry – pointing to the lyrics of Bill and McKenna Medley’s 1987 power ballad (I’ve Had) The Time of My Life.

Nadia Whittome MP said: “Do you know who aren’t having the time of their lives? The six million low-income families whose universal credit she’s just cut by £1,000 [a year].”

Sir Keir Starmer’s party plans to drive a van around the perimeter of the conference venue in Manchester during Boris Johnson’s speech on Wednesday – displaying a poster urging ministers to “cancel the cut”.

It came as Baroness Philippa Stroud – a former adviser to Iain Duncan Smith and chief executive of the Legatum Institute – called for a vote on the contentious cut, accusing the government of “putting our poorest people into poverty”

She said research by the think-tank had concluded the decision to remove the £20-per-week uplift will push 840,000 people into poverty, including 290,000 children.

“This is … a really bleak day for many, many families up and down the country,” Baroness Stroud told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“At this moment in time, MPs have not voted on this at all, it’s been a decision taken by the executive, so my intention is to bring a vote in the Lords, cross-party vote that would say to the House of Commons, think again on this issue.

“Is this something we really want to do as a civilised nation, putting our poorest people into poverty is surely not the way forward as we come out of the pandemic?”

Save the Children said one child every second will be affected by the widely opposed cut on average over the next month.

But deputy prime minister Dominic Raab defended the cut as it came into force on Wednesday, insisting that the government could not afford to make the uplift permanent.

“The £400 billion that the government has put in to supporting the economy, workers and the most vulnerable is just clearly unsustainable long term. The universal credit uplift was always going to be temporary,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

Elsewhere, the senior cabinet minister Michael Gove was seen dancing with Tory MP Tom Tugendhat in a Manchester hotel on Tuesday night.

Mr Gove showed off his now-familiar moves to a karaoke version of Whitney Houston’s I Wanna Dance With Somebody.

He used his Tory conference speech on Tuesday to joke about being caught on camera at a nightclub in Aberdeen last month. “Dance like nobody’s watching they say. Well I did. But they were watching.”

Boris Johnson made a reference to Mr Gove’s dancing at the start of his conference speech on Wednesday. “Wasn’t he brilliant my friends? … Let’s hear it for Jon Bon Gove-y!”

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