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No Osborne apology over disability benefit U-turn

Chancellor George Osborne speaks in the House of Commons,

The Chancellor has refused to apologise for attempting to introduce "upsetting" cuts to disability benefits before doing a U-turn on the plans.

George Osborne insisted he had listened to and learned from concerns about the cuts to the personal independence payment (PIP) and dropped the proposal.

But he did not accept former shadow chancellor Chris Leslie's invitation to say sorry for the mistake which left a £4.4 billion hole in the Budget.

Mr Osborne has taken the unusual step of opening the final day of debate in person so that he could respond to widespread concerns following ain Duncan Smith's dramatic resignation from the Cabinet.

George Osborne launches defence of controversial Budget

George Osborne has defended his position as Chancellor as MPs prepare to vote to approve his Budget.

Mr Osborne told the Commons that if Britain wanted to build a "strong and compassionate society" the country had to live within its means.

"We have to back business to create jobs and we have to make sure work pays by putting more money into the pockets of working people."

The Chancellor also used his opening remarks to pay tribute to Ian Duncan Smith, who resigned as Work and Pensions Secretary last week over planned controversial cuts to the welfare budget.

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Charities welcome government U-turn on disability cuts

Disability charities have welcomed the government's U-turn over planned cuts to the Personal Independence Payments, known as PIPs.

Michelle Mitchell, chief executive of the MS Society, said:

This will be a huge relief for thousands of people who rely on PIP for vital support to live independently and with dignity.

We hope this marks a watershed moment in Government welfare policy.

– Michelle Mitchell, MS Society chief executive

Mark Atkinson, chief executive of disability charity Scope, said:

We welcome the government's decision not to go ahead with previously planned changes to PIP.

Life costs more if you are disabled and these extra costs make it extremely hard for disabled people to pay the bills.

– Mark Atkinson, chief executive of Scope

Stephen Crabb: Government to abandon disability cuts

Stephen Crabb

Stephen Crabb, the new work and pensions secretary, has announced the government will abandon controversial cuts to the Personal Independence Payments.

"I can tell the House we will not be going ahead with the changes to PIP that had been put forward," he said.

He added that the government would not fill the savings gap left in the budget by the U-turn with further cuts to welfare.

The announcement had been widely anticipated following the resignation of Iain Duncan Smith, Mr Crabb's predecessor.

Mr Crabb paid "huge tribute" to Mr Duncan Smith, and appeared to try to win back the support of disabled people, saying he believed it was possible to do "so much better" for them.

Corbyn says budget has 'fallen apart'

Jeremy Corbyn

Jeremy Corbyn has lambasted the government's budget, saying it had "fallen apart" within days of its announcement and suggesting the chancellor should resign as a result.

The Labour leader accused David Cameron of "covering up his great friend" George Osborne by allowing the chancellor to avoid answering questions in the House of Commons on a budget that had "inequality at its core".

Mr Corbyn noted that Mr Osborne was not present, while "practically every other cabinet minister is here today" and said the chancellor should "consider his position and look for something else to do".

Mr Cameron responded that the chancellor would be in parliament on Tuesday "winding up the budget debate".

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