Disability claims can’t be made on ‘unverifiable assertions’, argues Sunak in advantages crackdown | EUROtoday

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Rishi Sunak has rushed to defend his incapacity advantages crackdown, saying solely these with “genuine” claims needs to be eligible for help.

After an enormous rise within the variety of adults reporting disabilities and claiming assist via private independence funds (Pip), the prime minister stated these with “less severe” situations needs to be engaged on this planet of labor.

The authorities Green Paper, revealed on Monday, proposed a reform of scheme funds via adjustments to eligibility standards and assessments, together with choices to require claimants to get medical analysis and a change away from money funds.

The variety of month-to-month Pip awards for psychological well being issues has doubled since 2019, from 2,200 to five,300, in keeping with a rise in total awards via the profit scheme to 33,000 a month.

The annual value of the cost system is at present at round £22bn, and is forecast to rise by 50 per cent over the subsequent 4 years as extra folks, together with these with psychological well being issues, qualify for the help.

But critics have accused the PM of utilizing psychological well being as a political tradition warfare forward of Thursday’s native elections, that are set to see the Tories lose a whole bunch of seats on native councils.

In an interview with ITV’s Robert Peston, Mr Sunak stated: “The broad thrust of what we’re trying to do is say, hang on, you can’t be making claims based on unverifiable assertions. There needs to be some objective evidence, perhaps medical, so that we can say you are genuinely someone who’s in need of support.”

He added: “What we shouldn’t be doing is medicalising the everyday challenges and anxieties of life, and … if they are less severe, they should be expected to engage in the world of work.”

When pressed on the hardship that weak folks on low incomes would endure with out Pip, he stated: “That’s why it’s so important that we stick to our plan that’s easing the burden on the cost of living.”

Work and pensions secretary Mel Stride and Rishi Sunak have been pushing reform to Pip (Reuters)

His feedback got here because the work and pensions secretary Mel Stride revealed the Green Paper proposing to reform the funds.

The plans, which will likely be consulted on over the approaching months, embrace proposals to “move away from a fixed cash benefit system”, which means folks with some situations will not obtain common funds however quite improved entry to therapy if their situation doesn’t contain further prices.

Vouchers for retailers is also given out as a substitute of money. And advantages could possibly be given to claimants primarily based on their particular person situation, solely with proof of their medical analysis from a healthcare skilled.

Alongside the paper, Mr Stride additionally addressed the Commons, saying: “This government’s priority is to make sure that our welfare system is fair and compassionate. Fair on the taxpayer, by ensuring that people of working age who can work, do work, and fair on those who are in most need of the state’s help.”

He added that the session will likely be “exploring whether people with specific health conditions and disabilities can be taken out of Pip assessments altogether”.

“We are also consulting on whether we should make fundamental changes to the way we provide support to disabled people and people with a health condition,” he stated.

“We know that any additional cost arising from a disability or health condition, which Pip is intended to help with, can vary significantly and is unique to the individual circumstances.”

He argued that adjustments to the present “one-size fits all” system will supply “bespoke support tailored to individual needs”.

Acting shadow work and pensions secretary Alison McGovern accused Mr Stride of speaking out of each side of his mouth.

She stated: “In recent weeks, the secretary of state has decided to speak out of both sides of his mouth. On the one hand he says ‘I am grateful for today’s more open approach to mental health’, and with the same breath he tells us ‘there is danger that this has gone too far’.

“He wants it both ways, he thinks that openness about mental health is good but then says the very thing that brings back the stigma. Every time [Mr Stride] speaks, he makes it less likely that people will be open about their mental health.”

Ms Govern added: “He says some health conditions can be taken out of Pip assessments, which conditions are we talking about?”

Dr Sarah Hughes, chief government of the charity Mind, stated the proposal would “only make things worse” for tens of millions of individuals combating psychological well being.

She stated: “Taking away crucial financial support from people with mental health problems is not going to fix anything, it will make things worse.

“We will not allow the government to paint people with mental health problems who are not well enough to work as somehow taking the easy route.

“And we will not allow people with mental health problems to carry the can for failures of the system. If the government is serious about supporting people with mental health problems back to work, it would prioritise investment in our overstretched mental health service.”

Are you fearful a couple of change in eligibility standards and evaluation for Pip funds? Email tom.watling@unbiased.co.uk