Philip Hammond sat side by side with Theresa May
Philip Hammond did not mention once the £30-a-week cuts to Employment and Support Allowance in his Autumn Statement
The Chancellor offered no hope today to victims of a cruel disability benefit cut despite pleas from his own party.
Philip Hammond did not mention once the £30-a-week cuts to Employment and Support Allowance as he revealed spiralling national debt in his Autumn Statement.
Tory backbenchers had joined a plea to delay the cuts to people deemed fit for ‘work-related activity’ from April 2017 until there could be more support.
But while the Chancellor made a separate climbdown over separate cuts to Universal Credit, he did not help the 500,000-strong group of ESA claimants.
That was despite an order by Theresa May for the Chancellor to help the so-called ‘just about managing’.
And on Universal Credit cuts he said: “We do not want the blow softened, we want it lifted altogether.
“These are people who are working hardest for their families and the government is betraying them.”
Minutes earlier SNP Westminster leader Angus Robertson told Theresa May victims of the cut were being “punished for their disability or illness”.
“Why should people who are unable to earn a living be punished for their disability or illness by losing £30 a week, does she have any intention of changing that?” he said.
But the Prime Minister said: “The overall spending on disability benefits will be higher in every year to 2020 than it was in 2010.
“It is also important to recognise that when we give support for people with disabilities it isn’t simply about the benefit system and how much money they’re given.
“For those who are able to get into work and on that part of the ESA we provide packages which are outside of the benefits as well, because we recognise that people want the dignity of getting into the workplace.
“That’s what we are helping people with disabilities who can work to do.”
The government has previously insisted it is already bringing in more support for victims of ESA cuts.
The cuts will only affect those with a break in their claim or new claimants.
Mr Hammond said: “The welfare bill in our country spiralled out of control, with spending on working-age benefits trebling in real terms between 1980 and 2010.
Philip Hammond revealed grim growth forecasts in his first Autumn Statement
Today’s statement was the first setpiece speech by Philip Hammond after George Osborne’s six-year reign at the Treasury came to an end.
Ministers banged the Cabinet table as the Chancellor boasted they would be “writing a new chapter in our country’s history”.
The new Chancellor abandoned Mr Osborne’s cuts after he was told by Theresa May to help the “just about managing” (JAMs) – people on £12,000 to £34,000 a year.
He pinched some of Labour’s flagship policies, hiking the minimum wage 4% for over-25s from £7.20 to £7.50 from April 2017.
In a copy of Labour’s 2015 manifesto pledge, he announced he would ban letting agents’ fees which campaigners say average more than £300.
And he watered down Universal Credit cuts by lowering what benefit claimants must pay from 65p to 63p in the pound – but Labour said it was “too little too late”.
The Chancellor offered no hope to victims of ESA benefit cuts
The party and the IPPR and Resolution Foundation think tanks said it would restore just a fraction of cuts due to face 2million families – down from £1,100 to £800 a year.
Mr Hammond also pressed ahead with previously-announced pledges to spend £1.2billion on local road schemes, £1billion on better broadband networks and £379million on a refurbishment of Buckingham Palace.
He pledged £1.4bn for a new fund to help build 40,000 affordable homes after the number built fell to its lowest in 24 years.
There is set to be a small hike in the threshold at which people start paying the lower and higher rates of income tax, offering a little giveaway to 25 million workers.