Benefit Cuts For People With MS Will Cost Taxpayer More Than They Save, Charity Says

“MS can be painful and exhausting, it shouldn’t be made harder by a welfare system that doesn’t make sense.”
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Benefit cuts for people with multiple sclerosis (MS) will cost the government more money than it saves, a leading charity has said.

A report released by the MS Society says that cuts to Personal Independence Payments (PIP) planned over the next three years in the government’s Spending Review could end up costing the taxpayer almost £10m in increased costs in other areas.

The charity says the 20-metre rule - which removes benefits from disabled people who can walk further than that distance - will see one in six of the 100,000 MS patients in the UK lose out.

PIP includes a so-called motability component, which pays for the recipient to lease a car, wheelchair accessible vehicle or mobility scooter.

The loss of this payment means people with MS will use other government services more and be less able to work, the charity said.

The report estimates that between 2020 and 2023, the government will lose £57.4m in tax revenue from people with MS and their carers leaving work or reducing their hours.

The charity claims the government will also spend an additional £22.3m on the NHS, £11.4m in extra benefit payments and £1.7m processing appeals and reassessments as a result of the cuts.

The total extra spend of £92.8m outweighs the £83.3m of savings created by cutting PIP benefits.

Genevieve Edwards, director of external affairs at the MS Society, said: “We’ve long known about the enormous harm caused when PIP takes vital support away from people with MS.

“Our new report shows for the first time that this harm is rebounding on the government: the knock-on costs from people losing support are greater than the original cuts.

“So the government is squandering millions from the public purse while derailing lives.

“Scrapping this senseless rule would stop this unnecessary waste and help people with MS finally get the support they need.

“MS can be painful and exhausting, it shouldn’t be made harder by a welfare system that doesn’t make sense.”

In the Department for Work and Pensions response to a public consultation on the introduction of the 20-metre rule in 2013, it said it had discussed the impact of the 20-metre rule with other government departments and concluded that there would be no “significant additional cost implications” for central government, although it acknowledged there was a “potential financial impact” on local authorities.

The response added that relatively few recipients of the benefit were in work, so it did not anticipate a large drop in tax receipts.


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