Role of MP is changing amid Universal Credit and cuts, says Sheffield Heeley's Louise Haigh

Louise Haigh has said the role of the MP is changing as colleagues' case work has gone 'through the roof' since the start of Universal Credit roll-outs.

Louise Haigh MP.
Louise Haigh MP.

The Sheffield Heeley MP said that political aides are increasingly having to field requests to help with benefits claims amid a “perfect storm” of welfare reforms, budget cuts and spending strip-backs.

Speaking about other MPs, she said: “Case work demands have gone through the roof.

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“Those demands are almost unrecognisable [to what they were], increasingly complex, increasingly with severe mental health issues.”

Staff are dealing with emotional issues as a result, she said.

“To throw Universal Credit into the mix, I fully anticipate my office will be overwhelmed by the case work demand.”

She added: “We are now at a perfect storm where every single public service where funding volunteers or public sector has been stripped back to the point where they can’t provide support people needed and they are jumping through hurdles.”

Describing the system as “Kafkaesque”, she said “it can’t possibly deliver what it was meant to do, and for the taxpayer”.

Ms Haigh added: “We are having to seriously look at more staffing arrangements and provisions in the office.”

She said that the role of MPs is having to change to address higher demand, meaning politicians have less time to help with local issues, using the example of residents coming in with concerns about their grass verges.

She said: “I think we’ve seen it change [the role of MPs].

“Research staff increasingly are just as much counsellors as case workers and increasing called much more into case work, more than when I was elected.

“They’re much less able to do that political response.”

Ms Haigh said that she is going to have to make tough decisions about what case work to take on.