Department for Work and Pensions

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:23 pm on 26th February 2019.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Huw Merriman Huw Merriman Conservative, Bexhill and Battle 5:23 pm, 26th February 2019

Yes, of course, because we should always strive for 100%, as I said right at the start. But when we hear Opposition Members talking, we might think that the figure is at zero—it is not. I spend the time with those delivering the support and those receiving the support, and they are happy with it. Let me compare that with the previous system of tax credits. They were rushed in so fast by the Labour party that we ended up seeing overpayments of £7.3 billion and people pursued through the courts to get that money returned. Where does that leave the party of compassion? A success rate of 82% is high when one considers the challenging circumstances of people on universal credit.

In my remaining two minutes, let me turn back to those on disability support. I find that many of those who have been assessed for PIP and ESA have been let down by the system. I say to my Front-Bench colleagues that we need to continue to look to do more to help them through the assessments. I recognise that they are very much tailored benefits that take account of the cost of a disability. By their very nature, there will be challenges, but universal credit is absolutely a challenge that we should meet.

Again, I come back to the employment figures: we have got many more people with disabilities into work than the Labour party did. Anybody with a disability should be told that they are just as able to find work, and that they have the support the Conservative party to do so, as those who are not disabled. Failure to do that is complete discrimination. I am really proud of the support we offer. My office is a Disability Confident office: we want to make sure that we give people the exact same opportunities. I am proud of our position with regard to those with disabilities. The fact is that we are now spending an extra £10 billion to assist people, compared with 2010.

When it comes down to it, we are helping people to get into work—[Interruption.] Marsha De Cordova says we are not, but I have just said that there are an extra million people in employment under this Government compared with under her party’s Government. The statistics do not—[Interruption.]