WATCH Kent Tory Joke About Bet on Universal Credit Cut Mention

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A Conservative Councillor from Kent County Council (KCC) is under pressure to resign after claimed his colleagues had been running a sweepstake on when the withdrawal of the £20 Universal Credit uplift would be mentioned at a Council meeting. In a shocking show of disrespect, the Tory Councillor cuts in to make a now alleged “joke” about the bet they had been running.

Conservative politicians have long been accused of being out of touch with the people they represent. So to some, the news that Councillors were betting on when a poverty inducing cut was mentioned at a Council meeting, wouldn’t a surprise.

At a meeting of Kent County Council’s Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee last month, Committee chair Paul Bartlett made comments about a sweepstake colleagues were running after Labour councillor Karen Constantine mentioned the reaction of other members to her bringing up the removal of the £20 uplift to Universal Credit.

After stating that changes will force a lot of families into poverty, Constantine said:

“I can hear my colleagues groaning but really this is about prevention being better than cure and what we do now stores up enormous problems for the future.”

In response to this Committee Chair Paul Bartlett cut in to a say:

“The reason why you heard collective groans is because some colleagues have lost the sweepstake as to when the £20 Universal Credit would be mentioned at this meeting.”

Other councillors attending the meeting via video conference can be seen to be visibly shocked at the claim.

Cllr Constantine responded by saying:

“I wonder how many of my colleagues have spent time in food banks, or visited the kitchens of people where the cupboards are actually bare, and then we wonder why an eating disorder epidemic.”

You can see the full exchange here:

Credit: Twitter/@uk_karen
Councillor Paul Bartlett is the chairman of KCC’s Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee.

Speaking to KentLive yesterday, Cllr Bartlett denied any sweepstake existed saying:

“Conservative councillors do not treat the benefit system as a joke – there was no sweepstake,”

“The benefit system is designed to assist those in need of support.

“My interpretation of what was said by Cllr Constantine was that the change in Universal Credit would create a lottery that would affect healthcare outcomes in Kent.

“The introduction of a temporary uplift of universal credit was a reaction to the pandemic and it is not appropriate to try and link the end of the temporary change to potential healthcare outcomes in Kent.

“The NHS is free at the point of use and the suggestion that a health lottery will emerge from the change in benefit rules is incorrect and may dissuade residents from seeking help at the earliest possible time which is key to effective outcomes.”

Numerous charities and MPs from all parties including the Conservatives, were critical of the government’s decision to remove the £20 per uplift to Universal Credit this month. Many fear that it will push tens of thousands of families further into poverty as a result of energy bills and food prices rising due to Brexit.

Whether there was a sweepstake will be pretty irrelevant to most, it’s the fact Cllr Bartlett thought to mention the sweepstake at a recorded public meeting that will upset them.

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