Welfare Policies: Effect on Disabled People

Women and Equalities – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 21st July 2016.

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Photo of Marion Fellows Marion Fellows SNP Whip

What assessment the Government have made of the effect on equality for disabled people of its policies on welfare.

Photo of Caroline Nokes Caroline Nokes The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

Spending to support people with disabilities and health conditions will be higher in real terms in every year to 2020 than it was in 2010. The Government have set out their assessment of the impact of the welfare policies in the Welfare Reform and Work Act 2016, and made similar assessments for previous changes.

Photo of Deidre Brock Deidre Brock Shadow SNP Westminster Group Leader (Scottish Parliament/Scottish Government Liaison), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Devolved Government Relations)

The UN committee on economic, social and cultural rights recently called for the Government’s regressive cuts to social security to be reversed and for a comprehensive assessment of their impact on vulnerable women, children and disabled people. How would the Minister respond to these calls from the international community? Will she commit to raising these concerns with her colleagues in the Department for Work and Pensions so that these shameful cuts can be abandoned?

Photo of Caroline Nokes Caroline Nokes The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

Spending on the main disability benefits rose by more than £3 billion in real terms during the course of the last Parliament, and overall spending on personal independence payments and disability living allowance will be higher this year in real terms than spending on DLA was in 2010. Our welfare reforms will ensure that the billions we spend better reflect today’s understanding of disability and offer targeted support to enable disabled people to live independent lives.

Photo of Marion Fellows Marion Fellows SNP Whip

I welcome the Minister, a former colleague on the Education Select Committee, to her position. She will be aware of the Government’s long-promised Work and Health programme and of how disabled people are still awaiting publication of the Green Paper to map out what employment support will be made available for those with disabilities. Does she agree that her Government must now map out the timeline for publication and ensure that sufficient funding is made available for disabled people, who have borne the brunt of Tory austerity cuts?

Photo of Caroline Nokes Caroline Nokes The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

I thank the hon. Lady for her welcome. I very much enjoyed our time together on the Select Committee. She is absolutely right that we will publish a Green Paper to engage with disability groups and disabled individuals in order to build a strategy that works for them. It is critical that we get more disabled people into work. I spent some time before the general election as Parliamentary Private Secretary to the then Minister for Disabled People, and I know how hard he worked to promote the Disability Confident campaign and to ensure good examples of companies we could champion for showing that employing disabled people was good not only for disabled people but for the economy and individual companies.