Alison Thewliss, SNP MP for Glasgow Central, has described planned further cuts to disability benefits as “completely unacceptable” and called for an assurance that disabled people will not be left financially worse off under new proposals from the UK Government.
The UK government has announced emergency legislation to change the eligibility criteria for Personal Independence Payment, and overturn the decision of two tribunal rulings against the Department for Work and Pensions last year. The UK Government claims that these changes would reduce spending on disability benefits by £3.7 billion. In reality, the changes will deny over 160,000 people access to Personal Independence Payment, cutting vital support which helps people cope with the extra costs of living with disability.
These changes come on the back of the comments made by Tory MP and head of the Number 10 Policy Unit George Freeman, who said that the changes would ensure that benefits went to people who are “really disabled” rather than people “who suffer from anxiety”. Mr Freeman’s comments have drawn criticism from disability rights organisations for the insensitive way that he portrayed sufferers of anxiety.
Commenting on the legislation, Alison Thewliss MP said:
“For a Tory MP, and one of Theresa May’s most senior advisers, to suggest that people with a mental health condition are not “really disabled” is completely unacceptable and wrong. George Freeman’s words highlight this Tory government’s total lack of understanding or compassion when it comes to providing for those who are less fortunate than others.
“The Tories said there would be no further cuts to disability support during this parliament, but once again they have shown that the price of their failed austerity project is to be borne by those who are least able to afford it.
“The UK government must urgently clarify what these new proposals will mean for people who currently receive Personal Independence Payment and give a concrete assurance that any changes will not result in a reduction in financial support for disabled people.
“I have signed the “prayer” motion laid down in the House of Commons to formally object to this legislation and I call on MPs from across the House of Commons to unite in opposition against these changes.”