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A Tory government Minister is facing criticism after making a joke about deep-fried Mars bars in response to a question from West Dunbartonshire’s MP about the impact of Universal Credit on foodbanks.

Local SNP MP Martin Docherty-Hughes slammed Tory DWP Minister Will Quince for their “ignorant and disrespectful” response to an Urgent Question in the House of Commons on further delays to the roll-out of the UK government’s Universal Credit policy.

After raising concerns about the DWP’s closure of the local jobcentre in the Vale of Leven, MP Martin Docherty-Hughes cited a rise in demand at two foodbanks in West Dunbartonshire as evidence of the difficulties caused by Universal Credit.

The SNP has challenged the UK government to “wake up” to the crisis of increasing reliance on foodbanks, calling on Tory Ministers to halt the rollout of the UK’s flawed flagship welfare policy which is set to be delayed to a new date in late 2024 at an additional cost of £500 million.

Responding to Martin Docherty-Hughes MP’s concerns in parliament, Tory DWP Minister Will Quince said: “The Honourable Member raises a number of points. We are always looking at how we can improve Universal Credit, and if he has ideas, he can either write to me or come to see me, because I am very approachable – we could even share a deep-fried Mars bar together.”

Speaking after the exchange, Martin Docherty-Hughes MP said:

“It says it all about the Tories’ attitude to the poorest in our communities that they make jokes about deep-fried Mars bars in response to concerns about rising foodbank use.

“While our local foodbanks do an excellent job of supporting those who need it, the fact that more and more hard-pressed families are having to rely on them is a damning indictment of the flawed roll-out of the UK government’s flagship welfare policy.

“The introduction of Universal Credit has been nothing less than a shambles – pushing struggling families further into poverty. It is failing the very people the welfare system is designed to support and needs an urgent rethink.

“It’s regrettable then that instead of taking these concerns seriously, the Tory Minister chose to make an ill-judged joke about deep-fried Mars bars that is ignorant and disrespectful to my constituents.

“In Scotland the SNP wants to take a different approach to welfare based on fairness, dignity and respect. The sooner we have full powers over our own social security system the better.”

Watch the exchange between Martin and the DWP Minister in the House of Commons here.

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