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Esther McVey: She doesn’t look very healthy herself.

It’s ridiculous, isn’t it?

Esther McVey used her Conservative Party Conference speech – her first as Work and Pensions Secretary – to peddle a ridiculous, thoroughly-debunked lie that her party had not cut benefits.

She said reports of that nature were “fake news”, in an outburst worthy of Donald Trump.

Her claim was that the Tories have increased spending to £50bn a year – £9bn more than in 2010 when the Tories (and Liberal Democrats) took over from Labour.

In fact, they spent £39bn on disability, incapacity and industrial injury benefits in 2017-18. Ms McVey’s £50bn claim includes other benefits and says nothing about how individual people’s entitlements have changed due to Tory alterations to the benefit system.

We can do better, though. For example, the Liverpool Echo states that “most working-age benefits are frozen for four years from 2016/17 to 2019/20 – a cut to families’ real income. The government’s own 2015 Budget said this would cut £4billion a year from the benefits bill.

“Meanwhile, new benefit Universal Credit is widely agreed to be less generous than it was designed to be thanks to cuts by ex-Chancellor George Osborne.

“Its founder, Tory Iain Duncan Smith, said £2billion more must be put in to restore it – while the National Audit Office has cast doubt on its claim to “make work pay”.

“Tories have axed housing benefit for under-22s, only to U-turn and ditch the policy. They’ve introduced a £20,000 cap on household benefits.

“And hundreds of thousands of previous claimants have been denied disability benefits under the new Personal Independence Payment.”

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