Tories 'have an issue over disabilities' says Corbyn in benefits curbs attack


Theresa May's Government has an "issue" over benefits for disabled people, Jeremy Corbyn has suggested in an outspoken attack.

In a pre-Budget intervention, the Labour leader said ministers need to "think about the kind of society we are" as he condemned plans to tighten the rules on access to personal independence payments (PIPs).

The Government has committed to reversing a tribunal ruling which extended the disability benefit, but Mr Corbyn said ministers should rethink the plan.

A row over cuts to PIPs led to a Cabinet split in 2016, with then work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith quitting after a row with former chancellor George Osborne in the wake of the Budget.

Mr Corbyn raised the issue on the eve of Chancellor Philip Hammond unveiling his tax and spending plans.

He told the BBC: "They seem to have an issue over disabilities because last year they did try to remove the personal independence payments by £4 billion.

"They then reversed that cut after Iain Duncan Smith resigned a few days later and then agreed to carry on paying it, so there is a deficit built in to the budget already because of that.

"They then see this as a further opportunity to prevent the bill rising further; well, I think they just need to think about the kind of society we are, the way we support people."

Ministers have defended the proposals for PIP claimants, insisting they would restore Parliament's original intention.

A tribunal said PIP claimants with psychological problems who cannot travel without help must be treated like those who are blind, and those who need support to take medication should be assessed in the same way as those managing therapies like dialysis at home.

The Government has been accused of using the plans to reverse the legal rulings to strip benefits entitlements from more than 150,000 disabled people.