This is an unusual situation: a Conservative MP has said changes to benefits for disabled people will make it harder for the most vulnerable to get help.
Nigel Mills said that people who are unable to work consistently would face a tougher threshold to be entitled to government support.
At a meeting of the Work and Pensions Committee, Mr Mills said:
“It is effectively raising the bar because presumably there are some conditions where I don’t have a disability but I’m not fit for work but [under current arrangements] I would get the existing extra support by being put in the not expected to work group.
Nigel Mills argued there was a risk that people who are unable to work would face a tougher threshold to be entitled to government support.
“Someone in that situation under the new regime will get less and that is what you’re trying to achieve.”
He added: “To get the extra support I would need to qualify for PIP that is not currently the case.”
Katie Farrington – director-general for Disability, Health and Pensions at DWP – responded by saying that the Government was “not trying to raise the bar”.
She said the current Work Capability Assessment system was being removed because it seemed people who want to try work are being discouraged from doing so.
She said: “This is not about… saving money by the back door.”
But when pressed on the number of people who would be affected by the change, she admitted that ministers expect the figure to be around 300,000.
The changes will be imposed alongside plans to toughen up sanctions for people on benefits, that have been criticised by members of the Work and Pensions Committee who say there is little evidence to suggest they are effective in pushing people into work.
Work and Pensions Secretary Mel Stride said the Government should not “be shy or retreat from the fact that we have expectations of those to whom we get public funds”.
How sinister is that?
He was saying that a Tory government would expect people who receive sickness or disability benefits to prioritise getting back into work above everything else.
The question on all concerned parties’ lips is: does that mean they should disregard their own health for the sake of a Tory statistic showing progress? Good for Mr Mills, for exposing this.
Source: Disability benefits changes ‘effectively raising the bar’ for vulnerable people to get support, Tory MP warns
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