Eddie Mair Warns Universal Credit Minister: “Answer My Question Or I’ll Move On!”

11 January 2019, 17:37 | Updated: 11 January 2019, 17:43

Eddie Mair demanded the employment minister answered his Universal Credit question directly during a very tetchy interview.

Alok Sharma received an LBC grilling after Amber Rudd announced a shake-up of the government’s flagship benefits system.

The work and pensions secretary said a controversial plan to extend the two-child benefits cap would be scrapped.

Steps are also being taken to make weekly and fortnightly payments more accessible.

Mr Sharma described Universal Credit as “compassionate” and “modern”.

Alok Sharma received an Eddie Mair grilling over Universal Credit
Alok Sharma received an Eddie Mair grilling over Universal Credit. Picture: PA/LBC

But the heat was turned up when Eddie pointed to a recent study for Gateshead council.

It found the Universal Credit system increased depression and anxiety.

“What affect do you think your policy has had on public health?” Eddie asked.

The employment minister appeared to swerve the question, but Eddie wouldn’t let him.

“No,” the LBC presenter interrupted. “That’s a completely different question and you’re not going to answer a different question.

“You can either answer my question or I’ll ask you a different one, what’s it going to be?”

Amber Rudd has announced a shake-up of the controversial benefits system
Amber Rudd has announced a shake-up of the controversial benefits system. Picture: Getty

The pair were also at loggerheads when Eddie repeatedly asked the minister to apologise for those negatively affected by the turbulent role out of Universal Credit.

“What about the people who have suffered because you got it wrong initially?” Eddie said.

“Despite your intentions, and I appreciate your intentions, you want to sort out this system, you want to make it easier for people to get into work.

“But there have been causalities haven’t there?”

Mr Sharma replied: “What’s is important is where things go wrong and I’m not saying the system is perfect we, of course, need to make sure that we look at those and where we make mistakes, of course, we need to apologise.”

Eddie cut in: “But you haven’t actually done it. This would be the moment I think.”

The Conservative MP responded: “Where there are individuals that are raised where we have made an error, we put that right and we do apologise for that.”