Health and Disability Reform

Wendy Chamberlain Excerpts
Monday 29th April 2024

(1 month, 2 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
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I thank my hon. Friend for that really pertinent question. She will be familiar with the Buckland review, which has reported. I was very keen to pursue that review when it came across my desk, and I made my officials and the necessary infrastructure available to ensure that it was able to go ahead. It addresses many of the issues to which my hon. Friend rightly points, in terms of employers accommodating and benefiting from those who have autism and other conditions.

Wendy Chamberlain Portrait Wendy Chamberlain (North East Fife) (LD)
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Can I start by commending the hon. Member for Rushcliffe (Ruth Edwards) on her comments? They really went to the heart of some of what we are discussing. One of the challenges for the Government in talking about PIP is that they started this whole conversation by referring to the back to work plan, which makes many disabled people feel that this is about getting them back to work and reducing the overall welfare budget, when PIP is supposed to be about ensuring that they get the right support for their disabilities. On PIP, a big challenge that all MPs deal with is the number of errors in the system, and particularly the number of cases that end up at a tribunal. If we are looking into having a system that targets support better, what assurances can the Secretary of State give that it will actually be a better system, with fewer errors?

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
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There were two points there. First, errors in the benefits system—overpayments, underpayments and so on—are relatively rare. Secondly, on how we approach those who have long-term sickness or disability, the hon. Lady will see, if she refers to the back to work plan, that we are giving the 2.8 million people on those long-term benefits the opportunity to try work without fear of losing those benefits at all. We have made that extremely explicit. That is simply freeing up the system, and trying to get rid of some of the barriers that those people otherwise face.