I have been contacted by many of my constituents about changes to eligibility for Personal Independence Payment (PIP).
PIP helps people with disabilities and health conditions to fund their living costs, including the additional costs faced because of their condition. I have long argued for parity of esteem for mental health with physical health and I believe we should be caring for all sick and disabled people, rather than making their lives worse through cuts to entitlement to PIP.
As you know, on 23 February 2017 new regulations were issued to clarify the criteria used in assessing eligibility for PIP. The regulations followed tribunal rulings, which allowed chronic "psychological distress" to be included in the PIP assessment. The Government believes that the regulations will restore the original aim of PIP.
However, I am concerned that the new regulations, which are due to come into force shortly, will reduce eligibility to PIP support for over 164,000 people with debilitating mental health conditions, including those not able to go outside their own homes.
I believe this is unjust and unfair. It also undermines the judicial process. I am very concerned about the impact of the regulations on the health and wellbeing of those affected and the fact these changes could drive disabled people into debt or facing poverty.
I believe that the £3.7 billion reduction to PIP should be halted and I can assure my constituents that I will continue to stand up for a welfare state that is there to support people when they need it most.