Jeremy Hunt Accused Of 'Cruel Attack' On The Sick And Disabled In Autumn Statement

The chancellor has announced plans to stop benefit payments to people despite "growing scale of poverty".
Anadolu via Getty Images

Jeremy Hunt has been accused of a “cruel attack” on people who are ill and disabled, after he announced a crackdown on benefits.

In the chancellor’s Autumn Statement on Wednesday, the government moved to cut the number of people who could get welfare payments.

Hunt said the sick, disabled and the long term unemployed would be given extra help to find work.

He said if after 18 months of state support they had not found a job they would be required to take part in a mandatory work placement to “increase their skills and improve their employability”.

But the chancellor added if they chose not to “engage” with the work search process for six months they would have their benefits stopped.

The New Economics Foundation warned harsher sanctions would not help people find work.

“They need support instead. We know this and the government knows it too. This is a cruel attack on people who are ill and disabled,” it said.

Tom Pollard, the think-tank’s head of social policy, said: “Today’s announcements completely fail to address the growing scale of poverty we are facing.

“Cutting financial support and ramping up threats of sanctions is no way to support more ill and disabled people back into work - if anything it is likely to have the opposite effect for many people through the stress and anxiety these planned changes will cause.”

Paul Kissack, the chief executive of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, also slammed the move.

“The commitment to more personalised employment support for disabled people are undermined by moves to restrict financial support for hundreds of thousands of future claimants and exposing more people to sanctions,” he said.

“Almost two-thirds of destitute survey respondents reported having a chronic health problem or disability, demonstrating that this group is already at risk of the most severe form of hardship. Being destitute meant they couldn’t afford to keep warm, dry, clothed and fed.”

Christina McAnea, the general secretary of the Unison union, added: “Disabled people don’t want and shouldn’t have to rely on benefits. They need more rights at work, so they’re not forced out of their jobs by unsympathetic employers.”

In better news for many of the least well off, Hunt decided to increase Universal Credit and other benefits by 6.7% from next April in line with September’s inflation figure.

It had been suggested the government could try and save money by pegging the increase to the lower October inflation figure of 4.6%.


What's Hot