Stephen McPartland Member of Parliament for Stevenage, responding to the shock resignation of Iain Duncan Smith, said, "It is no secret that I had a real problem with the way the Secretary of State was introducing his Welfare Reforms and we have had very robust exchanges. The last meeting over ESA WRAG was essentially an argument and it became clear to me he had lost his way. The announcements to be published in the forthcoming Welfare Reforms White Paper were just frightening - there was an even an outrageous suggestion that the central reform would be for work to be prescribed by NHS professionals!
"I was furious over Tax Credits and successfully fought to have it reversed. This was followed by the abolishment of ESA WRAG for new claimants in 2017, which I also voted against and fought. Then the PIP announcements were just shocking, but not simply for financial reasons, as spending is actually going up year on year in real terms. They were shocking because once again we were being asked to support a policy without any idea of what the reforms would be. What would be the additional support offered to disabled people. These reforms are contained in a Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) White Paper, which we have been unable to access. To pressure the DWP, I was going to publish my own Green Paper - a prequel if you like, alongside concerned colleagues.
"The failure of the Back to Work programme for those on ESA WRAG, only 1 in 100 were able to get a job, was our failure not the failure of the disabled jobseekers on it. The changes announced to PIP are because we failed again. It is the proud duty of the Conservative Party to help those who fall on hard times and protect the most vulnerable in society. I am sorry, but I will not be shedding any tears for the evangelical, aggressive and routinely failing welfare reforms that were the personal fiefdom of the Secretary of State for DWP.
"I don't always see eye to eye with the Treasury, but it is disingenuous to blame them, when the problem was always in my experience at the very heart of the DWP. We must never forget that this year the Conservative Government is spending £34 billion on defence, but £50 billion on support for the sick and disabled. Labour spent £42.6 billion in 2010 for the sick and disabled, but they have always been more interested in headlines than actually helping anyone.
"We now have a real opportunity to get these Welfare Reforms right and I am going to fight to ensure changes are for the benefit of those receiving Welfare and helping them back into work with practical support. I look forward to my first meeting with Stephen Crabb, the new Secretary of State for DWP."
Click here if you would like to help Stephen make a difference