Lichfield’s MP has insisted new disability benefits rules will stop people from “taking the taxpayer for a ride”.
Michael Fabricant made his comments after George Osborne delivered his budget yesterday (March 16).
The Conservative MP said the Chancellor’s announcement would mean a further £1billion would be spent on disability benefits – but would see them distributed more fairly.
“I know people who are living with cancer, multiple sclerosis, and other diseases who want to work to keep busy, are working, and are happy to do so,” he said. “Despite their problems, they lead full and productive lives.
“There are others who have far less threatening disabilities who work for reduced hours in jobs that accommodate their condition. Good for them for making the best of a difficult situation.
“And then there are others who could work, but because they are receiving benefits, they choose not to. They may not see it this way, but they are taking the British taxpayer for a ride to the tune of over £500 million, and rising, each year.
“That just can’t be allowed to go on when the money could be better spent on education and the NHS.”
Mr Fabricant said that some of the comments about the changes had been based on myths.
“Social media has been rife with comments about changes to disability benefits,” he said. “It really is time for a reality check.
“Firstly, no-one currently on disability benefits will have the amount of money they receive changed. And secondly, if after 2017 someone were unfortunately to begin to suffer from a severe disability, they will receive the same benefits and also not be affected by these changes.
“It is really as straightforward as that.
“From 2017, if someone unfortunately becomes disabled, an independent medical team will assess that person. If they believe someone is capable of work, they will receive the same amount of money as Job Seekers Allowance just like everyone else – which is less than full disability benefit – to encourage them to seek work.
“Of course, if – once these new provisions come in – anyone feels they have been incorrectly medically assessed, they should write to their own MP. If that is me, I will take up their case – as I would always do.”
Mr Fabricant said the budget was designed to develop fairness in the system – and prevent people from “taking the taxpayer for a ride”.