MP blasts Tory minister over PIP

SNP MP blasts Tory minister over personal independence payments, whilst Tory minister Sarah Newton defended the Government’s record

Tory minister Sarah Newton defended the Government's record

TORY minister Sarah Newton has admitted there are problems with Personal Independence Payments (PIP) but dismissed opposition politicians of “scaremongering” over the benefit.

The Minister for Disabled People was speaking during an emergency debate on PIP, as MPs from all parties lined up to share horror stories told to them by constituents.

Glasgow East MP David Linden shared the story of Pauline Kerrigan from Springboig, who had previously been given a lifetime award of disability living allowance for her Raynaud’s disease and osteoarthritis. After moving over to PIP she “was then suddenly found miraculously fit for work”. Linden said Tory “obsession” with PIP was “little more than an ideological plaything”.

The SNP MP added: “Week after week, my constituency surgeries are packed with disabled people who continue to feel the sharp end of the Government’s cuts to social security.

“I remain convinced that the entire system needs a complete overhaul.”

Labour MP Laura Pidcock, who secured the debate in Westminster Hall, told of a constituent who found out on Christmas day that his benefits were being stopped. The MP said she was “shocked” by the looks of disbelief on Tory faces when presented with examples of people losing money after being moved on to PIP.

“That is the reality for disabled people in this country. People are falling further into depression and self-harm, having suicidal thoughts and becoming reliant on food banks. All of those things are harmful for our society. “Losing Motability cars was a consistent theme, along with falling into debt.”

Claimants can receive up to £141.10 a week, though in many cases the payment is much less. To receive PIP they have to go through an assessment procedure designed to test if they are capable of working. Newton said she would look at the cases raised by MPs if they gave her the details, but she insisted the UK Government were not cutting funding for disabled people.

She said: “Every single year since 2010 the Coalition Government and now the Conservative Government have spent more and more money, and we are committed to spending more.

“Expenditure on the main disability benefits has increased by more than £4.1 billion in real terms since 2010 and is set to reach a record high of more than £23bn this year. It will continue to grow each year to 2022.” The minister was heckled by furious disability activists during the debate.

The activists from Disabled People Against Cuts cornered Newton and told her: “We are dying!”

Paula Peters said to the minister: “The cuts are a human catastrophe. They have had a tragic human cost and disabled people have died.”

Earlier this week, the Department for Work and Pensions confirmed that all 1.6 million people receiving PIP will have their claim reviewed, after the UK Government declined to challenge a court ruling that the changes were unfair to people with mental health conditions.

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