Esther McVey has spent £200,000 of taxpayers money asking the public “if Tory Austerity has made them suffer.”

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LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 06: Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Iain Duncan Smith, and Esther McVey, Minister for Employment and Disabilities leave Downing Street after a cabinet meeting on January 6, 2015 in London, England. The cabinet meeting is the first since the Christmas recess. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

“This is a problem of the government’s own making.

“If this research gives the government a chance to get off this self-imposed hook, then it’s a good thing. But God help people in the meantime.”

Frank Field MP, who chairs of the Commons Work and Pensions committee. 

Esther McVey has launched a secret £200,000 study to find out if her own government’s cruel austerity policies are harming poor people.

The Tory welfare chief and her department are trying to find out if its policies are behind the surge in people relying on food banks.

The £217,000 research will seek to answer what campaigners have long argued after the number of emergency food parcels soared from 61,000 in 2010/11 to 1.3million last year.

McVey formerly MP for Wirral West – has previously tried to blame the explosion on Labour, who she said “refused” to let Jobcentres signpost people to food banks before 2010.

Officials will seek

“to identify any areas of DWP policy or operational practice that may have contributed to a rise in demand for food bank services”.