Stephen has forced the government - for the first time - to admit that the he increased use of food banks is partly down to problems in rolling out universal credit.
The work and pensions secretary said she was "absolutely clear there were challenges with the initial roll-out" of the benefit and that the difficulty in accessing money was "one of the causes" of the rise.
Stephen, speaking at Oral Questions in the House of Commons, pressed the Secretary if State further. In response, she said “…I have acknowledged that people having difficulty accessing the money on time as one of the causes of the growth in food banks, but we have tried to address that.”
According to the Resolution Foundation think tank, 2.2 million families are expected to gain under the system, with an average increase in income of £41 a week. However, 3.2 million families are also expected to be worse off, with an average loss of £48 a week.
Speaking afterwards, Stephen said “I’m pleased Amber Rudd has - belatedly - recognised that Universal Credit has forced people into using food banks. Up until now Ministers have always denied that, so I welcome the change of heart.
“Where I don’t agree with the Secretary of State is that she implied early hiccups were the problem, but actually it was the five-week delay between claiming universal credit and then being entitled to benefits.”