The Tories’ new benefits chief has launched a vicious attack on a United Nations report – just minutes into her public debut in the job.
UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights Philip Alston called welfare cuts a “political choice”.
And he declared: “Government policies have inflicted great misery unnecessarily, especially on the working poor, on single mothers struggling against mighty odds, on people with disabilities who are already marginalised, and on millions of children.”
But Ms Rudd – who praised Esther McVey after replacing her on Friday – prompted shouts of anger as she branded Mr Alston’s comments “wholly inappropriate” and “extraordinarily political”.
Speaking today just 15 minutes into her first Commons Q&A of her job, the Work and Pensions Secretary said: “I’ve read it over the weekend.
“I must say I was disappointed to say the least by the extraordinary political nature of his language.
“We on this side of the House will always engage with professionals, with experts, with NGOs.
“We are not so proud we don’t think we can learn as we try to adjust Universal Credit for the benefit of everybody.
“But that sort of language was wholly inappropriate and actually discredited a lot of what he was saying.”
Ms Rudd was forced to quit as Home Secretary after inadvertently misleading a Commons committee. But she was brought back into the Cabinet after showing keen loyalty to Theresa May.
Her comments today came after Labour’s Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary attacked Tory ministers for being “entirely dismissive” of the UN report.
Margaret Greenwood warned “the government has been determined to press ahead” with rolling out Universal Credit despite warnings disabled people could end up in “destitution”.
She called on Ms Rudd to “end the government’s state of denial” and “stop the rollout”.
The UN rapporteur’s report said the roll out of the Universal Credit treated “claimants like guinea pigs” and threatened to “wreak havoc in real peoples’ lives.”
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Mr Alston said during his visit he has spoken to people who “depend on food banks and charities for their next meal, who are sleeping on friends’ couches because they are homeless and don’t have a safe place for their children to sleep, who have sold sex for money or shelter, children who are growing up in poverty unsure of their future.”
“The Government has remained in a state of denial, and ministers insisted to me that all is well and running according to plan,” he added.
Ms Rudd looked solemn later in today’s Q&A as she vowed to ensure Universal Credit is compassionate.
She told the House of Commons: “I know there are problems with Universal Credit despite its good intentions – I have seen them for myself.”
A Downing Street spokesman said “we strongly disagree” with the UN report.