Conservative AM 'ashamed' of benefit payment delays

Angela Burns, who represents Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire, has criticised Universal Credit payment delays.

A Conservative Assembly Member has said she's ashamed of the UK Government over delays to new Universal Credit benefit payments.

In a private email, Angela Burns told colleagues that she agrees with the principle of Universal Credit and that the benefits system should be changed. But she says she can't defend there being a six-week gap before first payment or even the four-week period suggested as an improvement.

She says it's 'indefensible' and shows an attitude 'that is callous at best and downright cruel at worst.'

She's far from alone among Conservatives in expressing these concerns. Ministers will be forced to defend the rollout of Universal Credit in the Commons today after some Conservative MPs joined forces with Labour MPs to secure an emergency debate. Other Tory critics in Parliament are due to meet the Work and Pensions Secretary, David Gauke, to demand faster payments.

Angela Burns made her criticism in a private email sent by mistake to all Conservative AMs and staff and shown to me. You can read what she says below.

I have to say to you all that I think this position is indefensible and if I’m challenged I will say so. For the life of me I cannot understand why a 6 or 4 week gap is deemed acceptable. It should be a seamless transition and it’s not beyond the wit of man to make it so. I’m all for UC and I agree the benefits system should be overhauled and people paid appropriately but this cavalier attitude that the poorest can muddle through is callous at best and downright cruel at worst. I’m ashamed of my Government.

– Angela Burns AM, Conservative, Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire