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Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Minister brands benefit suicide claims 'appalling and unsubstantiated'

Written by Elizabeth Arnold

A Government minister has described claims from an SNP MP that people have "taken their own lives as a result of Government's benefit policies" as "appalling and unsubstantiated".

Work and Pensions minister Sarah Newton branded the comments shameful as SNP Deidre Brock urged her to "apologise to the victims of the Government's actions" during an urgent question from Labour in the Commons on the process and timetable of Personal Independence Payments back payments.

SNP spokeswoman (Fair Work and Employment) Ms Brock (pictured) said: "I find it shameful and depressing that it took a court case to drag this Government back to the edge of decency and I find the money wasted on legal proceedings abhorrent."

She added: "Will the Secretary of State apologise to the victims of the Government's actions? I appreciate she's new in post but I think this is important.

"Will she also apologise to the families of those who have taken their own lives as a result of Government's benefit policies and will she confirm she is now undertaking to restore some semblance of dignity to this area of policy by reviewing all PIP cases where benefits have been stopped or reduced rather than just those involving mental health."

Responding, Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work Ms Newton, said: "It is with deep regret that she has made such appalling and unsubstantiated claims about people committing suicide as a result.

"We in this House, all of us have a duty to be very mindful of the language we use and the evidence that we use for making such assertions.

"We are talking about some of the most vulnerable people in society and it is shameful when members in this House deliberately misuse data."

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2018, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) SNP.