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Chancellor under pressure for u-turn

Osborne facing backbench revolt over disabled cuts

George Osborne commons 1George Osborne is facing a backbench rebellion over his planned changes to disability allowances.

Cabinet minister Nicky Morgan last night indicated on the BBC’s Question Time her unease at the plans following Tory MP Andrew Percy’s public call for a rethink. She said the consultation had to be finished before any legislation was introduced.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies said 370,000 Personal Independence Payment claimants will lose an average of £3,500 a year each as a result of the changes, amounting to £1.2 billion a year.

PIP was introduced only three years ago to help the disabled with day-to-day issues such as washing and cooking and while it is not means-tested claimants must meet some stiff criteria.

Mr Osborne defended the plan to reduce the amount spent on PIP benefit, which is worth between £21.80 and £139.75 per week. He said the changes would mean the money being better targeted to those who need it and that the government was supporting the disabled more than “at any time” under the Labour party.

But Mr Percy said the number of Tory MPs opposed to the cuts is “much more significant than the size of the Government’s majority”.

He has written to the Chancellor to warn him not to go ahead with the plan, which he argued “sends out the wrong message about the priorities of the Government”.

He told the Evening Standard in London there was “zero chance” of it passing the Commons.

The Scottish government estimates that around 40,000 disabled people in Scotland will be worse off if the UK Government presses ahead with the change.

Social Justice Secretary Alex Neil has written to the UK Government’s Minister for Disabled People to voice his opposition to the cuts which will wipe £130 million a year from disability benefits in Scotland.

The Chancellor’s Budget confirmed that up to 30,000 disabled Scots will not receive the daily living component of PIP and so will be £2,873 worse off a year. A further 10,000 will see a reduced amount of award which means they will be £1,418 worse off a year.

This will impact on access to wider support such as Carer’s Allowance and free bus travel leaving people isolated and excluded, said Mr Neil.

PIP is one of the disability benefits which is set to be devolved under the Scotland Bill.

Mr Neil said: “I have made it clear that I am both disappointed and concerned that the UK Government has chosen to cut expenditure on benefits for disabled people to support other spending choices in the Budget.”

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