A Tory minister standing to be the next Prime Minister, who wants to slash spending on benefits, has been accused of spouting “fact free junk” and “pandering to ignorance”, after she claimed people were relying on taxpayers to fund their life.

Suella Braverman, the Attorney General, was the first MP to state they wanted to take over from Boris Johnson in the Tory leadership race.

She said her priority would be to be cut welfare, claiming it causes a “culture of dependency”.

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However, around one in three people on Universal Credit are in work and food banks have noticed a rise in people seeking help who are in employment and because benefits are inadequate to cover bills and food.

Glasgow politicians have criticised Braverman, who earns £99,732 for the top legal officer job in addition to her £81,932 as an MP, for her comments.

Braverman said, when asked by a TV reporter about Government priorities: “I think we need to look at some of our Government budgets. I think we spend too much on welfare.

“There are too many people in this country who are of working age, who are of good health and who are choosing to rely on benefits, on taxpayers' money, on your money, my money, to get by and I don’t think there’s enough rigor - Universal Credit has been a great thing - in stamping out the culture of dependency, there is more we can do.”

Rather than benefits proving a comfortable lifestyle, poverty has increased both among those claiming benefits who are in work and those who are unemployed.

Poverty Alliance director Peter Kelly said: “People want a society where we have compassion for each other, and that’s founded on a shared belief in justice.

“Our politicians should reflect those values.

“Suella Braverman’s comments unfortunately betray not only a lack of compassion, but are factually wrong.

“Most people who can be in paid employment already are, and our unemployment rates are historically low. Much of the social security spending that Suella Braverman wants to cut goes to people who are already in work.

“In the face of a cost-of-living crisis, when many people are struggling to get by, Suella Braverman should be talking about how we can make sure that work pays enough for everyone to live on, or how people can access childcare and training that will help them stay in jobs, or how she’ll provide support to those who are unable to work, so they can live in dignity.

“We would suggest that Ms Braverman focuses more on how we can redesign our economy so that work provides security and dignity, and how we can renew and rebuild our social security system so that it provides proper protection that we can all rely on when we need it.  

“Those are the urgent tasks for the next Prime Minister and their Government - not creating false divisions for ideological reasons.”

The Trussell Trust, which runs food banks, found “one in three people (33%) receiving Universal Credit had more than one day in the last month where they didn’t eat at all or had only one meal".

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Meanwhile, the amount spent on welfare on people of working age has not increased in line with inflation.

In Glasgow, in February 2020 just before the pandemic, there were 35,941 Universal Credit claimants.

Of those, 10,024 were people who were in work.

By the end of the year, as the pandemic increased the number of people on benefits, the number had increased to 71,555 on Universal Credit and 24,792 were in work.

Labour and SNP politicians in Glasgow said Braverman was out of touch with reality and was playing to an anti-welfare section of the Tory vote.

Paul Sweeney, Glasgow Labour MSP, said she was “pandering to ignorance”.

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He added: “In Glasgow, 31% of people on Universal Credit are already in work, 23% have no work requirement due to disability or caring roles and just 45% are searching, planning or preparing for work."

He added: “Want to reduce social security spend? Raise wages.”

Stewart McDonald, Glasgow South SNP MP, said she was spreading misinformation.

Glasgow Times:

He said: “Like most modern British conservatism, this is fact-free junk.

“It’s the kind of hubristic disinformation campaign - targeting the weak, scapegoating the poor and discarding the truth - that could’ve been authored by Moscow.

“Instead, it comes from the UK Government’s senior law officer.”