TORY plans to force hundreds of thousands of sick and disabled people back into work have been branded “heartless” by the SNP.

Ministers have drawn up "nasty" proposals which would see people with chronic physical and mental illnesses have to return to work before they are fit and able, or risk having their benefits cut, according to the BBC.

The changes would affect hundreds of thousands of people from 2025. It is expected to save £4 billion from the welfare budget over four years.

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The Department for Work and Pensions said reform would be gradual.

SNP MP David Linden said: “These latest nasty Tory proposals will cut the incomes of chronically ill and disabled people in the middle of a cost of living crisis.

"This Westminster government, which Scotland didn't vote for, is heartless and they need to go - and the only way to do that for good is with independence.

“That is the only way Scotland will ever get the governments it votes for and the only way to create a fair, more equal society.

“Whilst the Westminster government looks for ways to push people into poverty, the Scottish Government is working to put money in people's pockets with policies such as the Scottish Child Payment and by freezing council tax.
"With the Tories and Labour increasingly on the same page on a whole host of damaging policies, including Brexit and austerity, it's clear that it is only with independence that Scotland can rid itself of damaging Westminster policies and build a fairer, more prosperous country.”

The proposals follow the announcement in March that the government wants to scrap the controversial Work Capability Assessment, which is used to determine if people can receive additional benefits payments due to a health condition.

Eligible claimants currently receive £390 a month on top of their Universal Credit payment.

If the proposals are enacted, people who are in severe pain while awaiting an operation or have some mental health conditions, may not receive the additional payment but would be expected to look for work.

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The charity, Disability Rights UK, have said this policy “is a deliberate attempt to save money by risking disabled people’s lives” and that the consequences will be “more disabled people will be pushed into poverty, we will see more deaths and greater deterioration in health.”

Both Chancellor Jeremy Hunt and Work and Pensions Secretary Mel Stride have spoken in recent months of their wish to get more people off benefits.

Those who currently receive additional money are placed into two categories: either having “limited capability for work-related activity” if they receive Universal Credit, or in the support group if they receive employment and support allowance.

Under the plans, these categories would be ditched, the additional benefit would not be paid and work coaches in Job Centres would be the judges of how much effort a person had made to find a job.

Those considered not to be trying hard enough could be threatened with having their benefits sanctioned.

It is understood the changes would initially affect new claimants but existing benefit recipients would eventually be brought into the new system.

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesperson said the BBC's story was "purely speculation".

"The structural reforms set out in the Health and Disability White Paper, which will improve the experience of the benefits system for disabled people, will be rolled out gradually from 2026 and transitional protection will ensure nobody experiences a financial loss as a result of moving onto the new system," the spokesperson added.