PIP reforms part of £12bn benefits overhaul to fund Conservative tax cuts plan

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak launches the Conservative Party General Election Manifesto
-Credit: (Image: Jonathan Buckmaster)


Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has promised over £17 billion of tax cuts by 2029-2030, funded by a £12 billion reduction in spending on benefits and a £6 billion crackdown on tax avoidance, as he unveiled the new Conservative Party General Election manifesto today.

Mr Sunak previously outlined plans for huge reforms of the welfare system including replacing PIP payments with vouchers and grants for treatment and equipment. But campaigners have issued a plea for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) to be protected rather than being replaced by vouchers. The benefit gives direct cash transfers of up to £737 a month to those with long-term health conditions and disabilities but there are concerns over spiralling costs becoming unsustainable.

Over the coming five years, PIP spending is expected to grow by 63 per cent from £21.6 billion to £35.3 billion between 2023/2024 and 2028/2029. There are now more than 33,000 new awards for PIP made every month compared with 17,000 before the pandemic, the Department for Work and Pensions said.

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Mr Sunak also wants to cut back on the huge number of Universal Credit incapacity top-ups given to those with 'limited capability for work.' Instead, work capability assessments will be re-designed so that people with less severe conditions will be expected to find a job.

GPs would no longer be able to sign people off from working because statistics show that 94 per cent of people seeing their doctor for a sick note are found unfit for work, Mr Sunak said. People would instead be referred to specialist work and health professionals who would look at what kind of employment the person may still be able to do.

But campaigners say huge cuts to Britain's benefits bill are not the answer to reforming welfare. In response to the launch of the Conservative election manifesto, James Taylor, Director of Strategy at disability equality charity Scope, said: "Our welfare system needs fixing, but cuts to disability benefits are not the answer.

"Whichever party is in power after the election we'd urge them not to take the most from those with the least. Life costs more if you are disabled. Disabled households spend more on food and household essentials including energy and have medical equipment to power.

"The value of Personal Independence Payment (PIP) must be protected. It is an essential commitment to recognising inequality disabled people face."

The proposed PIP reforms include changes to the eligibility criteria and qualifying period; reforming PIP assessments so they are more closely linked to a person's condition and removed entirely for those most in need; and replacing the monthly benefit payments with one-off grants, vouchers and shopping catalogues to purchase appliances and services.

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