Green rejects "suicide" claims over benefits cuts

Claims that Scots have been driven to suicide by cuts to the benefits system were today slammed by Westminster works and pensions secretary Damian Green as he appeared before MSPs.

Damian Green rejected suicide claims
Damian Green rejected suicide claims

The UK cabinet minister said it was wrong to use "individual tragedies" to make political points in Holyrood's social security committee.

One angry Nationalist MSP confronted Mr Green with claims suggesting he came close to "murdering" disabled Scots who killed themselves after changes to their Personal Independent Payments (PIP).

Sign up to our Politics newsletter

Sign up to our Politics newsletter

The Uk minister insisted there was no evidence of this and said it was "unfortunate" that MSPs would attempt to make political capital out of such issues.

Paisley MSP George Adam said 48% of disabled people are living in poverty, according to Inclusion Scotland.

He added; "We also have a situation where Black Triangle campaigners came here and told us as well that basically the regime of PIP assessments is actually sending people to go and commit suicide.

"That's the situation - it was so strong by the Black Triangle campaign that actually they almost accused you of murdering people."

But Mr Green said there was "no evidence" to support this.

He added: "I think bringing people committing suicide into political debate is always unfortunate. Clearly every suicide is a tragedy. There are complex reasons behind everyone and to try and politicise individual tragedies like this always seems to me to be very unfortunate."

Personal Independent Payments (PIP) were introduced under the recent welfare overhaul to give support for disabled people to help deal with their condition. It replaced the former Disability Living Allowance (DLA), but has prompted widespread concerns among campaign groups about the harsh assessment regime.

Mr Green said that PIP payments have increased by £294 million, or 16 %, over the last Parliament.

"The amount being paid to people who have extra difficulties because of their disability is actually going up under PIP. All evidence shows this is a benefit that is helping people."