PMQs: Jeremy Corbyn attacks Theresa May over benefit cuts

Theresa May faced attacks over her cuts to welfare and the rate of benefits sanctions as she faced Jeremy Corbyn at PMQs.

The Labour leader said that Mrs May's pledge to help those who were "just managing" had proved to be "empty words" and called for an end to "institutionalised barbarity" in the welfare system.

He also pointed to a study that found a link between the government's benefits sanctions and an increase in the use of food banks.

Mrs May hit back, saying that it was important that benefits system was fair to both its users and the taxpayers who support it.

She said that changes to universal benefits had produced a "simpler" system that was easier for users to understand.

"Crucially the point about universal benefits was about making sure that work always pays," she said.

Mr Corbyn said Mrs May was 'ungallant' to blame a mistake on her ex-chief whip

Mr Corbyn told Mrs May: "Can I recommend you support British cinema and take yourself along to the cinema to see a Palme d'Or winning film - I, Daniel Blake?

"And while you're doing so, perhaps you could take (Work and Pensions Secretary Damian Green) with you, because he described the film as monstrously unfair - and then went on to admit he'd never seen it. So he's obviously got a very fair sense of judgment on this.

"But I'll tell you what's monstrously unfair - ex-servicemen like David Clapson dying without food in his home due to the Government's sanctions regime.

"It is time that we ended this institutionalised barbarity against often very vulnerable people."

Mrs May replied: "Of course it's important that in our welfare system we ensure those who need the support the state is giving them through that benefits system are able to access that.

"But it's also important in our system that those in our system who are paying for it feel that the system is fair to them as well.

"Now, you have a view that there should be no assessments, no sanctions and unlimited welfare. I have to say to you that the Labour Party is drifting away from the views of Labour voters. It's this party that understands working-class people."

The two leaders clashed in the House of Commons. Credit: PA

There was also amusement in the Commons after Mrs May mistakenly congratulated Mr Corbyn on the birth of a new granddaughter. In fact it was Labour MP Conor McGinn who recently welcomed a new arrival.

"Can I just say that perhaps one should never trust a former chief whip," she said after the error was pointed out.

Mr Corbyn said it was "very ungallant" of her to try to shift the blame for the confusion.

"At my former chief whip has got a job," replied Mrs May, in a shot over his sacking of Rosie Winterton.