A charity in Bucks has slammed government plans to cut benefits and push disabled people into the workplace.

The Buckinghamshire Disability Service (BuDS) has described the government's proposal to cut the £26 billion benefits bill and encourage people with mobility and mental health difficulties to work from home as 'extraordinarily cruel'. 

Work and Pensions Secretary Mel Stride announced plans this week to cut sickness benefits and change the Work Capability Assessment, a test aimed at establishing how able someone is to work, so that it takes remote working measures into consideration. 

Mr Stride said the crackdown on sickness benefits would be pushed back to 2025, after the next general election, and would not impact those at the end of life or with severe learning difficulties or disabilities. 

However, Andrew Clark, chair of BuDS, said regardless of whether the measures end up being implemented or not, they were a concerning indication of the current government's stance towards those with physical and mental difficulties. 

"What we have seen since 2013 is that benefit sanctions just end up killing disabled people. Hundreds have starved to death or committed suicide because their benefits were cut.

"This is the government saying that they actually don't care about people in need, or, worse, that the country simply can't afford to support them, so they'll be abandoned."

While Andrew views the announcement as a cost-cutting measure that is likely "another party political thing that is never going to actually happen", he also thinks it signals a lack of understanding of whether remote working is even an option for many with physical or mental disabilities.

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"Remote working is, in theory, very good for disabled people but a significant percentage of them can't do office work, and you can't work in a supermarket from home."

85 per cent of the staff and 90 per cent of the volunteers at BuDS declare a disability, giving Andrew a unique perspective on the realities of disabled people in the workplace.

He said that while many of those employed by the charity are "excellent workers", extensive support and flexibility are required to help them flourish.

"We are really able to recognise the needs of people with very variable and fragile conditions - but I don't think this would happen in any other workplace, or even in a larger charity organisation."

Without extensive research into how disabled people could be helped to adjust and settle into suitable new roles, Andrew said, the proposed benefit cut is just "all about saving money" with no regard for the people it might impact.

"A sanctions-based coercive benefits system is never going to help people in need. All it will do is make them more miserable and more reliant on services like the NHS.

"It is much cheaper to give disabled people a fair benefit that they can live off than it is to allow them to fall into crisis.

"It's an extraordinarily cruel thing to do and to pretend that this is for the good of the people who will be affected is a rank hypocrisy."

Mel Stride said the new plans would include those with health conditions being given "the right support and opportunities to move off benefits and towards the jobs market”.

Speaking in the House of Commons, he added: “We know many people who are on out-of-work benefits due to a health condition want to work, and, assisted by modern working practices, they could do so while managing their condition effectively.

“Our plans include taking account of the fact that people with mobility problems or who suffer anxiety within the workplace have better access to employment opportunities from the rise in flexible and home working.”