Therese Coffey danced, jumped and pointed ecstatically as she sang the 1987 power ballad during a Tory conference karaoke party
The Tory welfare chief belted out ‘I’ve had the time of my life’ hours before cutting benefits for 5.8million Brits.
Therese Coffey jumped up and down and danced with abandon at a Tory conference karaoke party last night.
The Work and Pensions Secretary sang the uplifting 1987 power ballad, made famous in the film Dirty Dancing, with fellow Tory minister Will Quince.
Today she will oversee the end of the £20-a-week Universal Credit uplift, the biggest overnight welfare cut since the Second World War.
The 18-month-long Covid benefit will be removed from payments arriving between October 13 and November 12, plunging hundreds of thousands into poverty and affecting more than 3million children.
Mr Quince was until recently the minister responsible for Universal Credit and is now the Minister for Children and Families at the Department for Education.
We asked Ms Coffey this morning if she regretted her choice of karaoke but she refused to comment.
We asked the welfare chief if she thought it was fair that she appeared to be “having the time of her life” while families braced for sleepless nights, worried if they will be able to feed their children. She declined to comment.
Asked if she had anything to tell claimants who have been left in “impossible situations”, she still declined to comment.
Landlords, mortgage lenders, debt charities, homelessness groups and Save The Children are among those opposing the benefit cut.
Six former Tory Work and Pensions Secretaries have also hit out at the move, while Tory MP Nigel Mills yesterday warned: “We may end up going so far that we look cruel and harsh, leaving people in an impossible situation.”
But the Prime Minister has refused to U-turn – instead unveiling a £500million hardship fund that is a tenth of the amount being cut.
Cruel Mr Johnson claims “there is no alternative” other than waiting for the free market to produce higher wages – despite families facing a winter of discontent with soaring inflation and higher energy bills.
The RSA think tank today warns the cut will hit “levelling-up” areas in the north and Midlands hardest.
Julian Hamilton/Daily Mirror)
Priority levelling-up fund areas have 50% more claimants than lower-priority ones, with 18% of those in priority areas claiming the benefit.
Hannah Webster, joint head of people and place at the RSA, said: “It still isn’t too late to change course.
“By reconsidering the imminent cut to Universal Credit, the government will help ensure everyone has access to a system of support that allows them to meet their needs.”
Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Jonathan Reynolds said: “The Secretary of State singing that she is having the ‘time of her life’ while making families £1,000 a year worse off today is frankly an insult and a disgrace.
“It is not too late for the Government to reverse this disastrous decision, support struggling families and cancel this cut.”
The Work and Pensions Secretary is understood to be lobbying for a cut to the ‘taper rate’ of Universal Credit in this month’s Budget.
That would allow up to 2.3million working claimants to keep 40p of every £1 they earn from wages, rather than 37p as is the case now.
But such a change in the taper rate would not make up for the £20 cut for the vast majority of claimants.
Ms Coffey is a regular on the conference karaoke scene and once sang ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ with Matt Hancock.
She said at a reception earlier in the evening: “Last night at conference is the best night….
“I love conference. It’s not just about the karaoke… it’s not just about the drinks that are there.
“What I love is that we genuinely get to see each other and wow, what a difference it makes to be here in person.”
She added: “We are genuinely here to govern the country to make life changes for people in this country.”
Other Tories were spotted dancing last night too, with Michael Gove boogieing to ‘I wanna Dance with Somebody’.
And Liz Truss was seen dancing to ‘Simply The Best’ at a gay club on the city’s Canal Street.