Iain Duncan Smith How Asked 'How He Sleeps At Night' After Cutting Disability Benefits

Labour MP reads question from disabled person

14/03/2016 15:18

Conservative work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith has defended cuts to a benefit that help disabled people live more independent lives.

The government has announced Personal Independence Payments (PIP) will be chopped by £1.2bn.

Labour's shadow work and pensions secretary Owen Smith today accused Duncan Smith of "completely eroding access" to the payments for people who are quite often "unable quite often to use the toilet or get dressed unaided".

Speaking in the Commons, Smith told Duncan Smith: "Before I came here this afternoon, I asked disabled people what question they would like to put to the secretary of state, and one answer stood out.

"It was quite simply: 'How does he sleep at night?'"

Duncan Smith insisted that even under the changes being proposed, spending on PIP would rise.

"Under this government spending on sickness and disability benefits has risen ever year. We spend over £50bn, which is more than any other OECD country of our equivalent size such as Germany" he said. "I am proud of that."

"What we have done to reform this is to make sure those in need get the full support that they do."

"The changes that have been announced on PIP are about changing and reforming and improving what goes to those who most need it in this disability allowance," he said.

"I believe this is the right way to go and will improve the lot of those worse off."

Smith had told the work and pensions secretary: "Politics is about choices, about priorities and about values and I think this weekend we saw the values and priorities of the current government laid bare in the decision to implement the so-called welfare reform that will see £1.2bn cut from the incomes of disabled people to pay for, we’re told, a tax cut for top-rate taxpayers."

Last week the Disability Benefits Consortium, made up of 25 disabilities charities, wrote to the government to warn against the cut.

Michelle Mitchell, chief executive of the MS Society, said: "This decision could have a devastating impact on the lives of people with MS. In the worst cases, they could lose up to £150 a week.

"PIP is an essential benefit which goes towards the extra cost of being disabled.

"The new plans will fail some of the most vulnerable people in society and we have serious concerns about the future health and welfare of those affected."

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