Heidi Allen: Tories poised to rebel over disability benefit cuts
A number of Theresa May’s own MPs will vote against the Government over changes to disability benefit, according to Tory backbencher Heidi Allen.
Ministers are set to push through cuts of £3.7bn from the benefits bill, by reducing the number of people eligible for Personal Independence Payments (PIPs).
Ms Allen said the Government should “take the financial hit”, and pleaded with disabilities minister Penny Mordaunt to ditch the policy, which she branded "not fit for purpose".
Speaking on the BBC’s Today programme, she said: “If I was in her shoes I would take the financial hit. We need to accept this, now let’s really look at this PIP policy, which is something that needs to happen anyway, and just review the whole thing from top to bottom.”
The move follows two court rulings last year, which assessed the scoring of benefits criteria for various physical and mental health conditions.
“In my view, the courts are there for a reason. If they have come up with this ruling that says that the criteria should be expanded then I believe we have a duty to honour that,” she added.
“That’s their role. Does it mean we should look at the PIP process as a whole? Well frankly I think we should do that anyway; it’s not fit for purpose, and there are lots of people who agree.”
The South Cambridgeshire MP has been a long-standing opponent to welfare cuts, including the proposed slashing of Employment and Support Allowance, and said a number of her Tory colleagues would join in objecting to the PIP proposals.
She added: “We had a really bumpy ride, and rightly so, last year with cuts to ESA - which I still desperately hope will be overturned and we’ll hear some good news in the Budget on potential cuts to PIP - it was not a good year and we need to do better.”
Ms Allen also rebuked Tory policy Chief George Freeman for his comments yesterday, in which he said welfare payments should go to the “really disabled” over those with mental health conditions.
She said: “Well I don’t think it’s a judgement that MPs should be taking unless they’re qualified, to be honest. It’s not the sort of language that I would use.
“To be fair, the information has been coming out this weekend and it’s an evolving picture, an evolving story. So perhaps George wasn’t fully aware of the detail of the case, because it doesn’t sound like George to me, he’s a real champion for mental health.”