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David TC Davies: ‘Most on sickness benefit can work’

A Welsh Conservative minister asserted in a recent Welsh TV debate that the majority of individuals receiving sickness benefits are capable of employment. The Conservatives aim to achieve savings of £12bn by restructuring welfare payments, focusing on health-related schemes.

Welsh Secretary David TC Davies highlighted during the ITV Cymru Wales general election debate that many on sickness benefits “would be capable of working if we could give them the confidence to go out into the workplace”. He addressed criticisms from the Institute of Fiscal Studies, acknowledging the need to reduce health-related benefits expenditure significantly.

Davies stressed the unsustainability of current benefit levels, stating, “That’s absolutely unsustainable. People aren’t milking the system, maybe a small number are. But the majority of those people would be capable of working if we could give them the confidence to go out into the workplace, and we have to do that.”

The Conservative manifesto proposes reforms to capability assessments, aiming to support individuals with moderate mental health issues or mobility problems to engage with work effectively, rather than relying solely on benefits.

The debate also touched on funding disparities, with Welsh Labour’s Jo Stevens criticising the lack of financial benefits for Wales from the High Speed 2 rail project. Meanwhile, Plaid Cymru’s Liz Saville Roberts acknowledged the risks associated with Welsh independence.

Healthcare was a significant topic, with Davies highlighting disparities between NHS performance in Wales and England, noting longer waiting lists in Wales. Stevens agreed on the need for NHS improvements across the UK, while Saville Roberts advocated for better GP access in Wales through increased recruitment.

All three leaders agreed on the urgency of addressing social care, with Davies advocating for cross-party cooperation on the issue.

The debate underscored the contrasting priorities and challenges facing Wales ahead of the upcoming elections, reflecting a range of viewpoints on economic, health, and governance issues.