Labour vows to reverse ‘devastating cuts’ to disability services and benefits
Jeremy Corbyn has promised to boost disability benefits and end “dehumanising” sanctions if Labour wins the next election.
The pledges are part of Labour’s manifesto for disabled people - titled “Breaking Down Barriers” - which is being launched today.
Proposals include reforming Universal Credit, ending work assessments and sanctions and introducing mandatory disability pay gap reporting.
Jeremy Corbyn said the policies would cost £2.6bn during the next parliament, and would reverse the “shameful” policies of the last government.
But the Conservatives hit back at the plans, saying they would "create greater uncertainty for disabled people”.
Labour’s promises come after ONS figures released on Monday showed that disabled people earn 12% less on average than their able-bodied colleagues.
To tackle this, companies with more than 250 employees would be required to report their disability pay gap under a Labour government.
Companies would also be required to give employees disability leave calculated separately from sick leave, and undertake specialist training to help support disabled employees.
Shadow Minister for Disabled People Marsha de Cordova said she hoped policies like these would “empower disabled people”.
“I have heard from disabled people all over the country who are angry at how they have been treated by Conservative-led governments," she said.
“I am proud that Labour is the only party with a manifesto developed by and for disabled people."
Other manifesto pledges include a shake up of Universal Credit, with plans to reform payments so parents of a disabled child receive the same amount as they did on child tax credits.
Parents with a disabled child claiming Universal Credit currently get £1,800 less each year than they did under child tax credits.
Labour would also introduce a self-care element into Universal Credit for disabled people without a carer, and increase Carer’s Allowance to equal Jobseeker’s Allowance.
Benefit sanctions, work capability assessments and Personal Independence Payment for disabled people would also be scrapped.
But Justin Tomlinson, Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work, said his party already had plans to reform disability services if they won the next election.
He said: “We recognise that disabled people still face too many barriers to realising their potential and to playing a full part in national life.
“That’s why a Conservative Majority Government will publish our National Strategy next year.
“We will use all levers to enable disabled people to achieve their potential and lead the lives they want to lead while Labour would create greater uncertainty for disabled people."
He added that the Conservatives were spending over £55bn a year on disability support benefits, a real terms rise of £10bn since 2010.