MP welcomes U-turn as civil war engulfs Tories

The decision to axe controversial changes to the way some disability benefits are claimed has been welcomed by Blackpool Tory MP Paul Maynard.

Wednesday, 23rd March 2016, 10:45 am
Updated Wednesday, 23rd March 2016, 10:47 am
Demonstrators outside the offices of the Department of Work and Pensions in central London protesting against changes to disability benefit rules.

New Work and Pensions secretary Stephen Crabb confirmed the u-turn over personal independence payments (PIP) following an outcry by disability campaigners.

Mr Maynard, MP for Blackpool North and Cleveleys, said he “heartedly” welcomed the Government’s rethink and urged caution in seeing the benefits system as an opportunity for savings.

He told a House of Commons debate: “We have to recognise that there will always be a significant number of people on a benefit like PIP who will never be able to return to work.

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Paul Maynard-MP for Blackpool North and Cleveleys.

“We must be ultra-careful in this place not to fall into an inadvertent utilitarian trap that sees those who aren’t able to return to work as in some way less deserving of our sympathy but also our financial support.

“Many who are in work rely on PIP to stay in work, it is a working-age benefit. But equally many are not in work and never will be.”

He added: “Those with every chance of returning to work are no more worthwhile than those who are not. There’s no hierarchy of human value in our welfare state.

“The benefit system should not be seen as a greater opportunity for savings amongst the economically inactive.”

Paul Maynard-MP for Blackpool North and Cleveleys.

Former DWP secretary Iain Duncan Smith resigned on Friday over the issues, after it was announced the criteria to decide who was eligible for PIP would be changed, saving the Government £4.4bn.

As a result it was estimated 370,000 disabled people would lose £3,500 a year, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

Disability charities warned tightening the criteria would lead to more disabled people unable to financially cope with the extra costs linked with having a disability.

Earlier this month Mr Maynard was among MPs who voted in favour of changes to another disability benefit, Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), which means some future claimaints would receive £30 a week less than they currently receive, and be put on the same level of welfare as Job Seekers Allowance.

He maintains the changes are needed to help more disabled people get into work.

Mr Maynard said savings would be ploughed into increasing support for disabled job-seekers at Job Centres, but those disabled people who had no prospect of being able to take up a job would continue with the same level of financial support.

He said the current system was “trapping” some disabled people into a situation “where they would never get into work”.

He added: “We are aware the work capability assessment in ESA is not considering people’s mental health needs, that is why we are committed to replacing the work capability assessment with something more suited to the 21st century.”