Anastasia Berry, Policy Co-Chair of the Disability Benefits Consortium and Policy Manager at the MS Society, says: “Today’s Budget contains some of the biggest changes to disability benefits seen in a decade. The scrapping of the Work Capability Assessment, seen by many as stressful and unnecessary, will be seen as a positive. However, its removal confirms many of disabled people’s worst fears, that in future more people will be forced into inappropriate work-related activity or face the threat of losing their financial support.
“These changes will mean Personal Independence Payment (PIP) assessments will become the only way for disabled people to receive disability benefits. Yet PIP is a broken system which often denies support to those who need it by putting unnecessary barriers, like the 20 metre rule, in the way. Without reform, the assessments will leave many terrified about the prospect of losing all their disability benefits in the midst of a cost of living crisis if their claim is unsuccessful.
“The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) talk about trust, but if they push ahead with these plans, they risk diminishing trust even further. The DWP must remove the threat of losing benefits by improving PIP assessments. Also, employers should face more formal requirements which would remove barriers for disabled people looking for and already in work, rather than forcing disabled people to enter work. And to truly reform the benefits system they must urgently raise benefits rates.”