THE Conservative Government cared about the vulnerable in society, Work and Pensions Secretary of State Esther McVey told the Conservative Party conference.

Speaking at The ICC in Birmingham, the MP for Tatton said: “We are helping people take control of their lives and are transforming the country into a great working nation, prepared for a prosperous, post-Brexit future.

“It is the Conservatives who have redesigned the welfare system to make it fit for the 21st century.

“We have eradicated the bureaucracy which meant people had to apply to three organisations for welfare - HMRC for tax credits, local authorities for housing benefit and DWP for unemployment benefits and disability payments.

“Universal Credit is an up-to-date system that replaces six benefits with one monthly payment and ensures work always pays.

“We are helping people into work and up the career ladder - the Conservative ladder of opportunity.

“Since becoming Secretary of State in January I have listened to the concerns of claimants, constituents, charities, welfare organisations and colleagues and have made significant changes to the benefit system.

“Including extra support for those with disabilities, more help for vulnerable young people and more support for families - people spoke, I listened.

“We'll continue to improve the system where we can and work with independent organisations to deliver vital services.

“Because the State cannot, and should not, work in isolation. It would be arrogant to suggest it can.

“Which is why I can announce a new, national partnership with Citizens Advice to deliver Universal Support across the UK, worth £39 million from 2019.

“This will help the most vulnerable get timely access to Universal Credit, providing budgeting advice and developing their digital skills.

“I want to continue to build partnerships with organisations across the country to help even more people into work.

“So today I can announce that from the new year we will work with Barnardo’s to provide care leavers with work experience opportunities in Barnardo’s high street shops.

“It will give that crucial, first step towards employment, all within a supportive, working environment, alongside trained staff and volunteers.

“Over the years Barnardo’s has transformed the lives of millions of children and families across the UK.

“They provide unconditional support, without judgement, giving the space, time and help for people to get back on their feet.

“Conference, we are Compassionate Conservatives. We care about the vulnerable in society and how to support them.

“Yes, we look after the money, yes we balance the books to ensure we can support those who need it, when they need it. But we are not a party only interested in numbers.

“A sound economy is part of the picture; a cohesive, caring society is the other part.”