Jeremy Corbyn says he will force a vote in Parliament on the Government’s PIP disability benefit cuts

The Labour leader says the Government has 'declared war' on disabled people

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Indy Politics

Labour will force a vote in the House of Commons on whether to go ahead with the Government’s disability benefits cuts, Jeremy Corbyn has said.

The Labour leader said the Government had “declared war on the disabled” with the changes, which would see 370,000 disabled people lose an average of £3,500 a year, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies. 

Cuts to the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) confirmed by the Chancellor yesterday will raise £4.4 billion by 2020, by stripping people who use specially adapted appliances of payments. 

The opposition party has highlighted the fact the changes will save roughly as much money as the Government spent cutting the higher rate of tax for the top 15 per cent of earners – unveiled in the same Budget.

“We are going to force a vote on this. We’re launching a petition this morning against this, because what the Chancellor is doing is demanding that those with disabilities who want to lead the most independent life they can pay for his corporation tax cuts,” he told BBC News.

“Surely as a society we’re good enough, big enough and open enough to say we want everybody to fulfil their dreams in their lives. That’s what this is about, independence for those with disabilities.

“Any of us could become disabled at any time. We’re just a car accident away from a major disability. We should think about that.”

Ministers have previously pushed benefit cuts through as statutory instruments, which do not have to be debated, and denoted them as financial instruments to prevent the House of Lords from blocking them.

Any vote forced by Labour would likely be non-binding on ministers – but a major defeat could push them into a climbdown if it felt it was losing support.

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith is backing the cuts

Under parliamentary procedure, opposition party can use its 'opposition day' debates to highlight certain issues and call symbolic votes.

Several Tory MPs have publicly voiced opposition to the cuts, with Cabinet minister Nicky Morgan last night saying they were simply a “suggestion” despite their inclusion in the Budget.

The Government has only a slim majority – meaning even a fairly small rebellion by Conservative backbenchers could derail the plans, which charities have warned would make life more difficult for people with disabilities.

Last year opposition from backbenchers and Labour pushed the Government into a damaging climbdown on the majority of its tax credit cuts, which have been postoned until 2020.

A poll conducted by YouGov after the Budget found that 70 per cent of the public believe the cuts are the wrong priority, with only 13 per cent believing they are a good idea.

Sources close to Iain Duncan Smith this morning however suggested a U-turn would not be forthcoming, while a Downing Street spokesperson said:

“We have got the time now to bring forward the legislative proposals to be explaining it to colleagues across the House and explaining it to disability groups.

“This is about taking PIP back to what it was originally intended to do, to target the support on the most vulnerable and the most in need.”