Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey has come under fire after she was spotted singing “The Time of My Life” as a cut to Universal Credit became official.
The cabinet minister was filmed belting out the Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes hit at a karaoke event on the final night of the Conservative Party conference in Manchester.
Ms Coffey was joined on stage in the early hours by Will Quince, the education minister, for the duet.
But political opponents have criticised Ms Coffey – who was also seen dancing barefoot during the event – for the timing of her night of jollity, with the £20 per week uplift to Universal Credit officially coming to an end on Wednesday.
Liberal Democrat MP Munira Wilson said: “I’ve no problem with politicians having fun. Hey, I love hitting the dancefloor.
“But just hours before this woman plunges thousands into poverty by slashing Universal Credit, how can Therese Coffey even live with herself, let alone belt out ‘Time of My Life’?”
Labour MPs also continued their attack on the government as the Universal Credit uplift, which was brought in at the beginning of the COVID pandemic, comes to an end.
Party leader Sir Keir Starmer called on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to “cancel the cut” while Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner said: “Today the Tories are taking £1,000 out of the pockets of low-income families.
“This winter thousands more children will go hungry, just like I did. Meanwhile, the Tories have given their donors and mates £3.5bn in contracts.
“If I wasn’t angry I wouldn’t be doing my job.”
And Labour’s Nottingham East MP Nadia Whittome posted on Twitter: “Last night Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey was partying at Tory Party conference, belting out ‘I’ve had the time of my life’.
“Do you know who aren’t having the time of their lives?
“The six million low income families whose Universal Credit she’s just cut by £1,000.”
Charities have also warned of the impact of the ending of the Universal Credit uplift.
Helen Barnard, deputy director of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, said: “Today the prime minister has imposed the biggest ever overnight cut to social security.
“It makes a mockery of his mission to level up.
“The prime minister is abandoning millions to hunger and hardship with his eyes wide open. Low-income families urgently need him to reinstate this vital lifeline.”
At Tuesday night’s karaoke event, new Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove was seen dancing with fellow Tory MP Tom Tugendhat to Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody”.
Government ministers have defended the Universal Credit cut by saying it was only meant to be a temporary measure during the coronavirus crisis.
But former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith, the architect of the Universal Credit system, on Wednesday morning called for the government to pause the removal of the £20 per week uplift.
Speaking to Sky News, Sir Iain said the policy had been “the silent ship in the fleet” throughout coronavirus and warned ministers there remains “a real need for a support mechanism”.
During his Conservative conference speech on Monday, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a £500m expansion of government action to tackle unemployment and support job seekers on Universal Credit following the end of furlough.