Controversial cuts to benefits for sick and disabled people will cost taxpayers more than they save, a leading disability charity has claimed.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) toughened the eligibility rules for the mobility component of Personal Indepence Payments (PIP).
The new rules mean that disabled people who are able to walk more than just 20 metres could forfit their eligibility for the highest mobility rate of PIP – otherwise known as the “20 metre rule”.
According to research from the MS Society, the UK Government can expect to save £83.3m over three years, but this cruel change will be easily outweighed by £92.7 million in knock-on costs to other social security benefits and the National Health Service.
And this comes in spite of DWP ministers claiming the “20 metre rule” would not have “any significant additional cost implications” for other Government departments.
Analysis by the MS Society suggests that, between 2020 and 2023, the cuts to PIP will cost an extra £22.3 million to GP services, A&E, and counselling services.
It will also cost £57.4 million in lost tax revenue from people with MS and their carers having to reduce hours or quit their jobs entirely.
A further £11.4 million in costs will result from extra benefit payments for Employment and Support Allowance and Carer’s Allowance for people who are left unable to work.
And £1.7 million in costs will be passed on to taxpayers due to the DWP having to process more benefit appeals and PIP reassessments.
The latest official DWP statistics reveal that a shocking 73% of PIP appeals are overturned in favour of claimants at tribunal.
Genevieve Edwards, MS Society Director of External Affairs, 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 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.”