Tory MPs are so angry at Chancellor George Osborne’s plans to cut the amount of money he gives to disabled people they are threatening to rebel against the government.
A number of backbench Conservatives have already spoken out against the proposed changes to Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and the government is already hinting that it might not go ahead with the current proposal.
Osborne announced in the budget on Wednesday he was going to make it harder for disabled people to claim the “mobility” component of PIP — a policy that would cut the benefits of 640,000 and save the government £1.2 billion ($1.7 billion).
The two backbench Tories who have been the most vocal in their opposition to the changes so far are Andrew Percy and David Burrowes. Burrowes recently led a rebellion which forced the government to back down over proposed changes to Sunday trading laws.
Here’s what Percy told the Daily Mirror about PIP:
“It is simply not sellable, and it is not fair to the people affected. It is not fair to people who cannot work.”
And here is what Burrowes had to say to The Telegraph:
“The Government needs to rethink its plan to cut disabled benefits. Conservatives have a good record in supporting the disabled which is at risk if we press ahead with this unfair cut to PIP.”
As well as those who are speaking openly, there seems to be a growing consensus among Tory MPs the PIP changes can’t go through in their current form. One Conservative MP told Business Insider on Friday:
“I don’t think it’s settled yet as it’s still under consultation, but it’s a point-based system so there’s room for manoeuvre.”
The government is already hinting that a face-saving watering down of the proposals is being considered. On BBC Question Time on Thursday night, cabinet minister Nicky Morgan told the audience Osborne’s budget announcement was actually just a “suggestion.” Here’s what she said.
“It is something that has been put forward, there has been a review, there has been a suggestion, we are not ready to bring the legislation forward … there’s been a suggestion of a change in the way personal independence needs are assessed, and that’s something we will continue to assess.”
This wouldn’t be the first time Osborne has had to make an embarrassing u-turn. In his 2015 Autumn Statement, he announced he would modify a planned cut to tax credits after the proposed policy was criticised by MPs in his own party. The Conservative’s only have a majority of 12 MPs in the House of Commons and Osborne knows it would only take a minor revolt to defeat a bill and cause him major embarrassment.
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