Welfare reforms to disability benefits defended by Iain Duncan Smith

  • Iain Duncan Smith, the work and pensions secretary, has been defending changes to the welfare system which includes disability benefit reforms.

    Mr Duncan Smith said that these changes will end up saving the taxpayer up to £50bn by the end of this Parliament. He said the reforms would "help and benefit" those who wished to return to work, reports the BBC.

    Speaking on BBC One's Andrew Marr Show, Mr Duncan Smith said: "I think the work programme is now for the first time ever working with people, who were once on sickness benefits and who are now not, going back to work. There were over a million [people] not looked at for over 10 years. These regular reviews, I think, will help them and benefit them. We haven't introduced this to hurt or to harm disabled people. The purpose is to try to support disabled people. The idea is to get people assessed so that we can find out those whose conditions have improved can then seek work, and many are going back to work now, and those who need full support get that full support."

    The Disabilities Trust Charity have said the reforms are a "triple whammy" of factors hitting disabled people, however Mr Duncan Smith said that the new regime will see disabled benefit claimants assessed on a regular basis to determine whether they need more support with their ailments or help to get work.

    The new Personal Independence Payment has slowly been rolled out to replace the Disability Living Allowance.

    Under the old regime, claimants had to prove they could walk no further than 50m without support to receive the top end of allowance, now they have to prove they can manage no further than 20m to receive the same benefit.

    Mr Duncan Smith said that this was not a straight forward change and people would be assessed in two stages, with people reaching 20m first and then 50m.

    "What we're trying to do with these reforms is to get them to be fair so that the people who need them get better payments, and those who don't need the higher levels don't take the higher levels," Mr Duncan Smith said.

    Sarah Clifford, director of communications for the Disabilities Trust, has said: "We just hope Mr Duncan Smith can deliver on the promise that this will be a fair system and will not be unfair or unjust on people with disabilities."

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