Government announces that it will not be proceeding with changes to support for disabled people
Lots of constituents have contacted me about proposed changes to Personal Independence Payments (PIPs) that help disabled people with the extra costs they face as a result of their disability.
I spoke to the Chancellor as people asked me to and, as you may have heard, the Government has now announced that it will not be going ahead with the changes. Not only that, it has also made it clear that it has no plans to make any other savings in the welfare budget during the course of this Parliament.
Despite the fact that the Government is not going ahead with the changes, I want to take the time to explain what we were looking at because we were not, as some people have been led to believe, proposing to cut support for the most vulnerable people in our society.
An independent review recommended that the Government “should review how aids and appliances are taken into account” when assessing how much PIP people should receive. Recent legal judgements have broadened the scope of what is considered an aid or appliance to include items that most people already have in their homes and, as a result, the number of people who are eligible for PIP solely due to their use of aids and appliances has tripled in the last 18 months. Analysis by medical professionals shows that some of these people are unlikely to need ongoing financial support. The Government was therefore planning to change how eligibility for PIP is assessed to ensure that it only goes to those who need it. Given the level of public concern about the proposed changes, however, the Government was clearly right to drop them.
I want to end by reassuring you about our commitment to supporting the most vulnerable in our society. Spending on support for the disabled will be higher in every year of this Parliament than it was when we came to power in 2010 and higher as a proportion of GDP than in countries like France and Germany.
If you were concerned about this issue, I hope the above reassures you but if not I would be very happy to meet to discuss the matter.