George Osborne’s disability benefits cuts to see ‘200,000 people lose £3,000 a year’

 A Labour analysis finds the cuts will remove 200,000 people from the Personal Independence Payments system

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Indy Politics

Chancellor George Osborne’s cuts to disability benefits will cause 200,000 disabled people to lose almost £3,000 a year each, a Labour analysis has revealed.

The analysis, cited by the Guardian, finds the decision to cut Personal Independence Payments (PIP) made to over 640,000 people in a bid to save the Treasury £1.2 billion, will remove 200,000 disabled people from the system.

In addition, 400,000 more people will experience a reduction in their weekly payments from £82 – the “enhanced” Daily Living Component – to £55 – the “standard” rate, according to the analysis.

PIP payments help with some of the extra costs incurred by long-term ill-health or a disability for people aged 16 to 64.

The level of payment is worked out using a points system dependent on the different aid and appliances a person needs to perform basic tasks.

The cuts will be implemented by reducing the number of points given to people who need help with tasks such as washing themselves, clothing themselves and going to the toilet unaided, resulting in lower or no payments.

The changes have been described as “devastating” by disabled charities, with many arguing they will fail some of the most vulnerable in society.

Owen Smith, shadow work and pensions secretary, said the government’s latest cuts were insensitive and targeted "people who are not able to manage toilet needs or dress unaided.”

Labour MP Frank Field told the Guardian he had trepidations over the PIP system after constituents told him they were being awarded zero points, only to have the decision overturned on appeal.

He also raised concerns over the way people were treated during their points assessments.

Mr Field has reportedly written to the work and pensions secretary Ian Duncan Smith on the issue, and called for individuals to be allowed to record their assessments.

Mr Osborne has also faced severe criticism for implementing the disability cuts while seeking to raise the threshold at which people start paying 40p tax in the pound to £50,000, reducing the amount of tax paid by thousands of well-off families.

Writing over Twitter Mr Smith said: “Already wicked to take another £1.2 billion from disabled, but truly obscene if switched for tax cuts at the Budget.”

Osborne defends disability benefit cuts

The Government has previously said the PIP changes will ensure the system is fairer as money goes to those who need it most.

The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) said a review of cases revealed a "significant number" of people are likely to be receiving the benefit even though they have "minimal to no on-going daily living extra costs".

Disability campaigners are set to hit out at the Chancellor this week when he includes the PIP changes in his Budget.

Mark Atkinson, chief executive at disability charity Scope, said: "We are concerned that the changes announced will make it harder for some disabled people to qualify for PIP.

"The Government has also announced it's considering a longer-term review of disability benefits. With the Chancellor's Budget next week we will be looking closely for more detail on what this means for disabled people."

 Additional reporting by Press Association