New figures published today by the MS Society warn as many as one in ten people with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) could face cuts to disability benefits, due to “absurd” Government changes to eligibility criteria.
The shocking figures show that more than 1,000 MS sufferers have already lost entitlement to the highest mobility rate of Personal Independence Payment (PIP).
Of the 4,349 MS sufferers who have already been moved to PIP, only 70% were awarded the highest mobility rate, compared to 93% who received the highest rate under Disability Living Allowance (DLA).
The MS Society warn that with 80% of MS sufferers on DLA yet to be moved to PIP, up to 10,000 could potentially lose their entitlement to the highest mobility rate, worth £57.45 a week compared to just £21.80 for the standard rate (correct at the time of publication).
Eligibility criteria for PIP has been tightened as part of wide-ranging changes to the welfare system. The changes mean people who can walk more than 20 metres, even with a walking aid, will no longer qualify for the highest level of support.
Under the previous system (Disability Living Allowance), only those who could walk more than 50 metres were denied the equivalent rate.
The MS Society says there is no evidence to support these changes and are calling for them to be reversed. “Having a condition like MS is hard enough”, the charity says on its website. “It shouldn’t be made harder by a benefits system that doesn’t make sense.”
Michelle Mitchell, Chief Executive of the MS Society, said: “Changes to disability benefits assessments have already had a devastating impact on the lives of too many people living with MS.
“It’s absurd that those who were once deemed in need of this crucial support now face having it reduced or taken away.
“We’re deeply concerned by the staggering figures of how many could lose out.”