Budget 2016: Government committed to disability benefit cuts as chancellor George Osborne faces potential backbench Conservative rebellion

 
James Nickerson
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George Osborne Presents The 2016 Budget Statement To The House Of Commons
Osborne may have to back track on his proposals (Source: Getty)

Number 10 has said it "remains committed" to cutting disability benefits this parliament, despite the prospect of a backbench rebellion over the issue.

​The backbench Tories claim they have the numbers to overcome the government's plans over personal independent payment changes, according to reports.

Education secretary Nicky Morgan had suggested that the government would climbdown on the proposal in the face of strong opposition, claiming the cuts of up to £3,500 a year per claimant were only a “suggestion”.

But the Prime Minister's spokesperson said the policy position is firm.

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The Telegraph reported that MPs in chancellor George Osborne's own party will force him to backtrack on plans to cut the welfare claims of 640,000 disabled people. Osborne said the policy would save £1.3bn.

The potential battle is a blow to Osborne amid tensions over the EU referendum and with MPs also pledging to oppose the government over European Union taxes on solar panels and home insulation next week.

On a brighter note, and to the joy of many MPs, Prime Minister David Cameron yesterday received EU support to abolish the tampon tax.

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The dispute over disability benefits is reminiscent of the rebellion over tax credit cuts, which forced Osborne in to an embarrassing climb down in the Autumn Statement last November.

Indeed, Osborne said yesterday that he will "listen to proposals".

However, Iain Duncan Smith, work and pensions secretary, has written to MPs to defend the cuts, saying: "This year we are spending around £50 billion on support for sick and disabled people, more than the entire £34 billion Defence budget this year."

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