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A Labour MP has claimed that the government is "keeping under wraps" plans to make people who lose their jobs wait five weeks before they get any benefit payment under universal credit.

Michael Meacher, MP for Oldham West and Royton, says the plans are being kept secret by the government in the run up to the next general election but they are "hidden in the small print" of the rules for the controversial new benefit system.

Mr Meacher says the impact of a five-week wait will be "devastating" for anyone who loses their job as they will be unable to get help to cover rent, mortgage, food or fuel bills.

He said: "The five-week wait will apply to anyone making a new claim, however long they have held their job or however much national insurance they have paid in during their working life.

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