Disability Benefits and Social Care

Part of Opposition Day — [2nd Allotted Day] – in the House of Commons at 1:27 pm on 20th June 2012.

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Photo of Liam Byrne Liam Byrne Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions 1:27 pm, 20th June 2012

I will believe it when I see it. As for the fiscal position, the hon. Gentleman will know that the Chancellor had to confess to the House that he was borrowing £150 billion more than would have been needed under Labour’s plans.

The truth is that there is no plan to get disabled people back to work. The reform of ESA is being so botched that 40% of people are winning their appeals, and those appeals are costing us £50 million a year. Charity after charity is saying that the descriptors used in the work capability assessment are failing. This is the point about reform: if we introduce changes, we have to adapt. We have to be flexible, and move as we learn. This Government are not doing anything. The charity Mind has so little confidence in the Government’s ability to get the reforms right that it has resigned from the advisory group. The Royal National Institute for the Blind has told me that someone who is totally blind can be found fit for work and put straight on to jobseeker’s allowance. That is why our motion, which I hope the hon. Member for Wimbledon (Stephen Hammond) will support, calls for the right reform of the work capability assessment.

Comments reported in The Guardiansay that the Secretary of State has been warned by his civil servants running job centres that people are being pushed to suicide by the botched reforms of employment and support allowance—a system that costs us £50 million a year and in which 40% of people are winning their appeals. How can that reform be right?