Estimates about the effects of the introduction of incapacity benefit are derived from national data and therefore cannot be broken down regionally with reliable accuracy.
The operative word being "reliable", of course. The data can be broken down if the Government want to. Notwithstanding the considerable distress that is felt by individuals who are being switched from invalidity benefit to incapacity benefit, why did the Government not measure—in areas such as my own in west Cumbria—the economic impact in terms of job losses and business closures as a result of the introduction of incapacity benefit? Has it not yet dawned on Ministers that a very large amount of money is being paid in invalidity benefit in areas of declining industry, where health is poor, and that the removal of much of that money from the local economy will have a major economic impact on areas such as mine?
The hon. Gentleman should bear in mind two points. First, the forecast national savings are savings in relation to what would have been spent, rather than in relation to the current spending level. Secondly, the hon. Gentleman, and all Labour Members, should remember that increases in spending mean increases in taxation, which also takes money out of the local economy and the economy across the nation. Labour Members never seem to think about the number of businesses that that closes, and the number of job losses that it causes.