Esther McVey has taken to the stage at the Conservative Party Conference to declare that news regarding the harsh benefit cuts enacted by the Tories are “fake news.”

McVey told the conference: “If you were to believe everything you heard from Labour or read on social media you’d think we were somehow letting down the most vulnerable in society – especially disabled people.

“However, those who say we are cutting budgets are peddling fake news.

“So here’s the real news: we have never spent more on those with disabilities and long-term health conditions. We spend over £50bn a year, up £9bn on 2010.”

Despite McVey claiming that the Tory benefit cuts are “fake news,” the Conservative party have overseen a number of harsh benefit cuts. Benefits freezes have resulted in a reduction in government expenditure by around £190m in 2018-19, which will rise to £370m by 2020-21.

And in spite of McVey’s claims that they were not in fact letting down disabled people, evidence suggests the contrary. Research published by the Equality and Human Rights Commission last November showed that policies enacted by the Tories resulted in an average loss in income for families which include a disabled adult of £2,500 per year – if the family also includes a disabled child, the loss will be over £5,500. This constitutes an impact of more than five times larger than that of the impact on families where no-one is disabled.

Many working age benefits have been frozen since 2016/17 and will remain as such until 2019/20, which the government’s 2015 budget claimed would reduce £4bn per year from the benefits bill.

The Conservatives have also introduced the controversial Universal Credit benefits system, which Iain Duncan Smith said required £2bn poured into the system to “restore” it, despite significant push back from charities and opposing parties regarding the system not working.

In July, McVey was forced to apologies to the Commons when a letter from the National Audit Office suggested she misrepresented their report regarding the effectiveness of Universal Credit, saying that her claims regarding the system working had in fact “not been proven.”

Image: Flickr/Number 10

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