Government plans to stop payments to disabled people with mental health issues have been criticised today, by a Tory MP.
The Department for Work and Pensions wants to introduce emergency legislation that denies approximately 160,000 people from receiving benefits.
Tory ministers claim the legislation is needed after being advised by courts not to cut Personal Independence Payments (PIPs) to those with mental health problems.
No. 10’s policy unit head George Freeman said last night:
These tweaks are actually about rolling back some bizarre decisions by tribunals that now mean benefits are being given to people who are taking pills at home, who suffer from anxiety. We want to make sure we get the money to the really disabled people who need it.
In other words, mental health problems are not serious problems.
This morning he offered a half-apology:
..regret if my comment about the need to prioritise the most 'serious disabilities' inadvertently caused any offence which was not intended.
— George Freeman MP (@Freeman_George) February 27, 2017
But stronger criticism came from Tory MP Heidi Allen (pictured) this morning on the Today programme:
In my view, the courts are there for a reason. If they have come up with this ruling, which says that the criteria should be extended, then I believe we have a duty to honour that. That is their role. Does that mean we should look at the process as a whole? Frankly I think we should do that anyway. It is not fit for purpose at the moment.
She also had advice for Disabilities minister Penny Mordaunt:
Don’t do it. If I was in her shoes, I would take the financial hit and say we need to accept this. Now let’s really look at this PIP policy, which is something that needs to happen anyway, and review the whole thing from top to bottom.
Just a few weeks ago, Tories were praising journalist Isabel Hardman for talking about her mental health problems. Now they don’t care.
It’s almost as if it was all a charade