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Welfare Reform and Work Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 7:06 pm on 20th July 2015.

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Photo of David Burrowes David Burrowes Conservative, Enfield, Southgate 7:06 pm, 20th July 2015

No, we have heard enough from the SNP for now.

Unlike the previous speaker, I am going to talk about the Bill. It shows the Conservative party and the Government full of head and heart. We care passionately about mobility and aspiration. We also care about security and solidarity, helping the vulnerable and the disabled. Our head says that we have to live within our means. Finally, we are grasping the nettle and recognising that we have to live within our means. The welfare budget has to be sustainable. What the Chancellor has said has to be said again: we have 1% of the world’s population, 4% of the world’s GDP and 7% of the world’s welfare spend. We have to deal with that to make sure we can help the most vulnerable and ensure they have a sustainable future.

This is the Welfare Reform and Work Bill, but as the Secretary of State said, it could also be described as the “Catch you when you fall” Bill or the “Lift you when you can rise” Bill. That is what it is all about. We are spending more than £33 billion on welfare for the sick and the disabled. That will continue. What does that mean? Compared with the previous Labour Government, we have spent £7 billion more on disability benefits. We will continue to spend just shy of £7 billion more than the previous Labour Government on disability and sickness benefits. That matters.

Hannah Bardell prayed in aid Margaret Thatcher. In 1979, Margaret Thatcher said:

“Our aim is to provide a coherent system of cash benefits to meet the costs of disability, so that more disabled people can support themselves and live normal lives.”

The hon. Lady was right when she said the Government are following in the tracks of Margaret Thatcher, because disability payments increased under her Government by 21%. This Government are continuing to increase disability benefits, despite the £12 billion in welfare cuts. The difficult cuts to the work-related activity group payments represent one twenty-fourth of the welfare cuts that are being made. We are protecting the disabled. We heard all the scaremongering, particularly from Labour during the election, about our plans to cut carers’ allowances savagely and to means-test and tax disability benefits, but the Bill shows that that is not happening.