Disability advantages crackdown in Tory plan is uncovered on reside TV interview

A Tory minister was left squirming when asked about his party’s draconian welfare plans in a heated interview.

Mel Stride was grilled on Good Morning Britain over the Tory party’s manifesto pledges as Mr Sunak has vowed to save £12billion a year by cracking down on welfare benefits if he makes it as next PM. That reality is looking less and less likely as recent polls show the Conservatives could be walking into the biggest election defeat yet.

The Tories claim that the whopping £12billion saving would in part be made by changing Personal Independence Payments (PIP) benefits and overhauling the “fit note” process – “so that people are not being signed off sick as default”. But economists have slammed the idea as farcical.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) think-tank says the policies that already set out are not “up to the challenge” of saving the staggering figure. They add: “The hope seems to be that, since spending on disability benefits is rising rapidly, one can simply ‘reform disability benefits’ and hold spending down”.

GMB presenter Ed Balls confronted the Work and Pensions Secretary on the numbers, but he flapped and wouldn’t be pinned down on specifics.

The former Labour chancellor-turned-broadcaster asked Mr Stride: “I’m asking you a very clear question for our viewers, because we want to know where the £12billion comes from so we understand how you’ll pay for your tax cuts.

“So we just need to know how much from PIP reform, how much from Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) reform and how much from fit note reform? We just need three figures from you. If you tell us those three figures, we’ll know your sums add up and that you’re not playing any prevaricating games.”

The Tory minister appeared to be taken aback by Mr Balls’ questioning, as he stumbled his words before saying: “No, we’re not playing any prevaricating games, we are consulting currently on PIP so it would be wrong to pre-judge the outcome of that.”

The presenter then interrupts, asking: “But you said £12billion in your manifesto?” Mr Stride then lets out a sigh and smirks, before quipping back in an exasperated tone: “Yes, correct and we will find that money. Let me explain how it is eminently achievable.”

The Tory minister then went on to claim that his party would make billions of pounds in savings if they can curb the predicted rise in disability benefit claimants over the next five years. But he offered zero insight on how reform to PIP or “fit notes” would come into the saving.

Not satisfied with the Tory minister’s response, Mr Balls pushed again, asking: “So you won’t tell us how much of the £12billion is from PIP reform?”

To which Mr Stride said: “Judge us by our record. We have demonstrated that we can act and make a real difference. That £12billion, I’ve contextualised it, is eminently achievable.”

Meanwhile, Labour’s Jonathan Ashworth – who quite literally shredded the Tory manifesto in disgust – branded the Tory spending plans a “fraud on the electorate” and filled with “unfunded commitment after unfunded commitment”.

Mr Ashworth said earlier this month that changes to Work Capability Assessments and reform of fit notes won’t save the Treasury any cash. And the Labour frontbencher added that the Government has failed to put forward concrete plans to reform Personal Independence Payments (PIPs), meaning there is no plan for savings.

He said: “Tory tax and spending plans are a fraud on the electorate. When they make more desperate promises, funded by £12billion of imaginary welfare savings or £6billion of inflated and already spent the tax avoidance savings… that is alarming.”