Skip to main content

Sunak launches ‘full-on assault’ on disabled people

PM announces major plans to impose curbs on benefits

RISHI SUNAK was accused of launching a “full-on assault” on disabled people today after he announced major plans to impose fresh curbs on benefits. 

The Prime Minister said an expected rise in benefits spending is “not sustainable” and vowed to “significantly reform” the system.

He announced a new consultation on personal independent payment (PIP), a non means-tested benefit that helps with extra costs caused by long-term disability or ill health. 

Citing an increasing number of people are claiming PIP for anxiety and depression, Mr Sunak said a more “rigorous” approach will be introduced, and that “greater medical evidence” will be required to substantiate a claim. 

The Resolution Foundation warned that inevitably “any major reforms will also impact those with physical disabilities too.”

The Prime Minister said that the government is also considering whether some disabled people should get one-off costs rather than regular payments.

He pledged to “tighten” the work capability assessment so that “hundreds of thousands of benefit recipients with less severe conditions will now be expected to engage in the world of work.”

James Taylor of disability charity Scope said the plan “feels like a full-on assault on disabled people.”

He said: “These proposals are dangerous and risk leaving disabled people destitute. 

“In a cost-of-living crisis, looking to slash disabled people’s income by hitting PIP is a horrific proposal.”

Disability Rights UK’s head of policy Fazilet Hadi accused the government of “targeting disabled people for a failing economy.”

She said: “The Prime Minister’s approach to systemic inequalities caused by government policies and underfunding of public services, is to further penalise, punish and threaten disabled people living on inadequate benefits.”

Mr Sunak also claimed that Britain is suffering from a “sick-note culture” and warned against “overmedicalising the everyday challenges and worries of life.”

He revealed new trials will be under way that will put an end to GPs being allowed to sign patients off sick, with the responsibility shifting to “work and health professionals” instead.

Mind chief executive Dr Sarah Hughes said that with mental health services at breaking point after years of underinvestment, it is “insulting to the 1.9 million people on a waiting list to get mental health support, and to the GPs whose expert judgment is being called into question.”

Dr Katie Bramall-Stainer, chairwoman of the BMA’s GP committee, accused Mr Sunak of pushing “a hostile rhetoric.”

She added: “With a waiting list of 7.5 million — not including for mental health problems — delays to diagnostics and resulting pressures on GP practices, patients cannot get the treatment they need to be able to return to work.”

The Tory government failed its pledges to cut NHS waiting lists, which have instead soared by 330,000 in the last year.

Unison general secretary Christina McAnea said: “Lengthy waits for NHS operations and treatment have left people languishing at home, too sick or injured to work. 

“Instead of hostile rhetoric on benefits, ministers should be recruiting to fill the huge gaps in the NHS workforce.

“That would increase capacity and allow more patients to be seen.”

She added that boosting pay to retain staff would be key.

“Threatening to remove benefits and forcing sick and disabled people further into poverty is most definitely not the way to increase the health of our sick nation."

Mr Sunak also announced that benefits will be sanctioned if someone does not comply with conditions set by a work coach.

He said that if the Tories were to win the election, people who were still out of work after 12 months will have “their benefits removed entirely.”

The PM added that anyone working less than half the full-time week will now have to try and find extra work in return for claiming benefits.

Michael Clarke, from welfare charity Turn2us, said: “Financial security and people’s physical and mental health are inextricably linked. 

“Punitive approaches to welfare are dangerous and can cause a vicious cycle where trust is eroded and people are less likely to seek help. 

“As well as directly addressing health needs, the focus must be on listening to people and understanding how the existing complexity of the benefits system impacts their ability to work.”

Mr Sunak said that £69 billion is being spent on benefits, however a Policy in Practice report released last week found that over £23bn worth went unclaimed in the last year, excluding disability benefits.


We're a reader-owned co-operative, which means you can become part of the paper too by buying shares in the People’s Press Printing Society.



Become a supporter

Fighting fund

You've Raised:£ 7,865
We need:£ 10,145
14 Days remaining
Donate today