Christian charities warn 600,000 affected by changes to disability benefits

The government has come under fire from a group of charities over planned changes to disability benefit.

In an open letter to the minister for disabled people, Justin Tomlinson, the Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC), which includes a number of Christian charities, said the plans "damage the health and wellbeing" of up to 600,000 people.

The charities said a disease such as multiple sclerosis can cost up to an extra £200 per weekPixabay

The government is introducing changes to the way disabled people are assessed for benefits under the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) scheme. However the DBC says the proposals would limit entitlement and have a "severe impact on individuals' financial security making it harder to access opportunities to work and participate in society."

In the letter criticising the government, they say: "It could have serious consequences for their health and independence."

The DBC says proposals would limit how an assessment takes into account the need for aides and appliances. In the current system thousands qualify for PIP by demonstrating they cannot complete everyday tasks without help. The DBC said it feared this criteria would be removed.

"In the worst cases, individuals could lose up to £120-£150 per week," the letter read. Signed by over 20 disability charities and organisations, the letter includes Christian organisations Compassionate Britain and Livability.

Founder of Compassionate Britain Tanya Marlow urged Christians from all political viewpoints to oppose the cuts.

"In 2010, David Cameron promised compassion, and yet he keeps targeting cuts at the most vulnerable in our society," she told Christian Today.

"Government cuts have already affected disabled people nine times more than the average person and severely disabled people 19 times more. Now they want to introduce a back-door cut to a vital disability benefit."

Marlow pointed to the extra expense incurred by disability and said PIP helps "level the playing field".

A DWP Spokesperson said: "The PIP consultation was launched to ensure the use of aids and appliances was achieving its original purpose - supporting people appropriately with the extra costs associated with disability.

"We have consulted widely with a number of organisations including members of the Disability Benefits Consortium to find the best approach. We'll be publishing our response shortly."