In the debate this week about support for disabled people, I thought it might be useful to set out a few facts.
1. The Government is now spending £50 billion a year on benefits to support people with disabilities and health problems, compared with £42.6 billion in 2010 under the previous Labour government. This is a far bigger sum than the entire £34 billion defence budget.
2. Personal Independence Payment (PIP) spending will rise very year of this Parliament in real terms. This is a payment introduced under David Cameron to help meet the extra costs which someone with a disability faces.
3. PIP is designed to focus support on those with the greatest need. 22 per cent of claimants are receiving the highest level of support, compared to 16 per cent under the previous benefit, the Disability Living Allowance (DLA).
4. Support from DLA or PIP has gone up from £13 billion a year under the previous Labour government to £16 billion today, and it will go up to £18 billion in future.
5. There are now more than 3 million disabled people in work. In the past 12 months alone, 152,000 more disabled people have moved into work, with 292,000 more in the past 2 years.
6. 500,000 fewer children are growing up in workless households than under Labour, 1 million fewer people are on out-of-work benefits and nearly 2.4 million more people are in work.
7. The Chancellor’s Budget last week lifted under 1 million of the low-paid out of income tax altogether, and the minimum wage is being increased ahead of the introduction of the first ever national living wage in two week’s time.
8. Under this Government the richest 1 per cent are paying a higher proportion of income tax receipts than in any year of the last Labour government.
Those are the facts. So let me end with an argument. I believe that we have a moral duty to look after the most needy in society. The capacity of the state to do so depends on a strong economy. This Government has halved the budget deficit, restored economic growth, created jobs, and enabled increased public spending where it is needed most. That is a truly compassionate record to be proud of.